Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease, characterized by the habit of compulsively seeking addictive substances, including drugs and alcohol, despite knowing their harmful consequences. The initial decision to take the addictive substance may be voluntarily, but persistent and long-term drug or alcohol use can lead to changes in the brain that are critical to a person’s decision-making, learning, behavioral control and judgement taking abilities.
What often starts as a harmless activity can soon develop into addiction with serious mental and physical health consequences. Some of the common factors that can increase the risk of addiction to drugs or alcohol include biological, psychological, environmental, genetics and lifestyle. One might not notice immediate changes brought about by drug or alcohol addiction, but when left untreated, the addiction can lead to long-term emotional, mental and physical health issues. Substance abuse can lead to different kind of issues in women because of their biology and culturally defined role in society.
Alcohol addiction: Signs and symptoms
Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a disease. Though it may cause one to feel high, relaxed, or sleepy, its long-term effects can change the way one’s brain reacts to alcohol. Alcoholism, a substance abuse disorder, combines the elements of both physical disease and mental illness. The two most common forms of alcohol abuse are alcohol use disorder (AUD) and binge drinking. AUD involves drinking large amount of alcohol over a long period, while binge drinking involves consuming large amount of alcohol with the sole goal of getting drunk.
Some of the symptoms of alcohol addiction are:
- Drinking in risky situations
- Making excuses for drinking
- Loss of control over excessive drinking
- Memory problems or blackouts
- Drinking more to get the same effect
- Drinking for longer periods of time
- Giving up other activities to drink
- Drinking despite its harmful health consequences
- Physical signs like weight loss and upset stomach
- Problems at work, school, office due to excessive drinking
- Worrying there’s not enough alcohol for an evening or weekend
After a prolonged alcohol abuse, an immediate withdrawal from alcohol can lead to uncomfortable symptoms that can be potentially life threatening. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks and can range from mild anxiety to seizures.