Trying to figure out how addictive a certain substance is can be difficult to quantify. After all, every person is uniquely different with very specific biological tendencies and personal habits.
While the constructs of addiction can be described, the actual addictive elements of a substance — like alcohol — can vary widely from person to person.
That being said, during the early stages of drinking for every individual, the brain begins releasing more dopamine — which is the chemical linked with pleasure.
Dopamine can cause a person to feel euphoric, making them increasingly relaxed and confident. This boost in mood can drive a person to consume alcohol on a more consistent basis in an attempt to chase that intoxicating high.
This brain alteration and emotional stimulation are key reasons why some individuals become addicted to a substance like alcohol, finding themselves needing it all the time to feel that same sense of false euphoria.
Is Drinking Alcohol Addictive?
The short answer is yes, drinking alcohol can become addictive to some individuals.
From biological tendencies to social influences, the reasons behind a person becoming addicted to alcohol may differ, but the percentage of people struggling with alcohol addiction keeps expanding day by day.
The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics indicated 140 million Americans over age 12 reportedly drink alcohol, with 11% of them (about 15 million) meeting the definition of having an alcohol use disorder. (1)
- If you have a response to alcohol that’s noticeably different from other people’s, it may be time to reexamine your relationship with drinking.
- If you find yourself drinking other people under the table, or you see your friends leaving alcohol in their glasses and you know you could never do that yourself, those are signals you’ve got a genetic setup for developing an addiction.
How Addictive Is Alcohol?
To better understand this question, there are two well-known perspectives that look at the influencing factors of alcohol addiction:
- One perspective views an alcohol use disorder as a disease of the brain, while the other perceives alcohol addiction as a learned behavior from reinforcing properties, like social indoctrination (constant beer commercials, alcohol available at every corner store, etc.), and social normalization (watching parents drink, friends drink, etc.).
The disease theory better explains why some people get addicted while others do not because it views an alcohol use disorder as a randomly occurring event that is exacerbated or triggered by biological influences and genetic predispositions.
You see, consuming alcohol essentially tricks the brain into sending abnormal messages that create a false reaction and make a person feel a false sense of pleasure associated with their alcohol consumption.
This response creates a counterfeit neurological pattern, which essentially teaches the brain to repeat the behavior of drinking alcohol to try to keep acquiring the sense of euphoria it created in the past.
A healthy brain rewards healthy behaviors — like exercising, eating well, or bonding with loved ones. It does this by activating brain circuits that make you feel pleasure, which then motivates you to repeat those behaviors.
But when you’ve become addicted to alcohol, that normal brain functionality can begin to work against you. That’s because alcohol can hijack the reward circuits in your brain and hook you into wanting more and more.
In addition, repeated use of alcohol can damage the essential decision-making center at the front of your brain.
This area, known as the prefrontal cortex, is the very region that should help you recognize the harms of using addictive substances but is fundamentally damaged by your substance use, making your addiction harder and harder to overcome.
Is Alcohol Addicting for You? Do You Want to Get Sober? Here’s Where to Start:
When it comes to addressing your alcohol use disorder in a safe and sustainable way, finding a qualified treatment facility is the most appropriate place to begin your recovery journey.
That’s because the clinical staff members at a professional treatment center have been trained to diagnose your substance use disorder while also aiding in the creation of an individualized treatment plan and therapeutic interventions.
Dealing with a disease and handling your sickness in a safe and qualified clinical setting is imperative. It ensures you properly address the symptoms of your addiction while learning long-term solutions for overcoming it and achieving a happier and healthier version of yourself.
Holistic, Life-Changing Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
Overcoming an alcohol addiction is no simple task, but with the right treatment facility and clinical staff, all things are possible.
Regardless of where your alcohol addiction has landed you, you can stop your addiction and get your entire life back on track.
Don’t let alcohol claim your life or hurt those you love the most any longer. There is life-changing support and a sober future ahead of you.
At Ranch Creek Recovery, your precise recovery needs are our main priority; your successful recovery and sober reentry into society are the goals of our mission.
At our non-12 step rehab and holistic recovery center, our alcohol treatment program delivers all-encompassing methodologies of medical and physical treatment, psychology, holistic and experiential therapies, and preparation to forge the drug-free future you desire.
Have questions? We’re here to help in any way we can. Contact us today!
1) National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Drug Abuse Statistics. Accessed April 12, 2021. https://drugabusestatistics.org/.