Although originally known as alcoholism, the term alcohol dependence is now commonly used to describe the millions of men and women who cannot function without a drink and rely on alcohol to get them through each every day.
Here are the five commonly accepted steps on this well-trodden and unwanted path that leads many to become dependent upon alcohol.
Step 1 – Occasional abuse and/or Binge drinking:
It must be said that the majority of people drink alcohol on an occasional basis and enjoy it for what it is. It can relax, leave you feeling in a pleasant state of mind and enhance social gatherings.
The problem often lies with people who are new to the tastes and effects alcohol offers. Their curiosity encourages them to sample different alcoholic drinks, often one after the other, and to test the limit of the amount they can consume.
While occasional over-imbibing is an accepted part of growing up, it is those who take excessive pleasure from the feelings and state of mind alcohol gives them who need to be fully aware of the potential tolerance issues they are creating.
Even though many people, and youngsters in particular may not drink on a regular basis it is common for them to binge drink. This is when they consume large amounts of alcohol during a short period of time.
Many wrongly assume that this type of drinking will do them no harm. They are wrong! As well as making them nauseous, vomiting and feeling very rough the following day there are more serious consequences such as the possibility of falling unconscious or even slipping into a coma.
Even if physical harm is not experienced there is the chance that feelings received from binge drinking will be enjoyed tremendously. This being the case there is a strong possibility they will seek to carry out this form of drinking on an increasingly regular basis.
Step 2 – Increasing alcohol consumption:
Once this experimentation period is over, many find their ‘tipple of choice’ and increase the frequency of their drinking. They are keen to meet friends and venture out for drinking sessions. By their very nature and the company kept these sessions can become fairly raucous with uncounted drinks being taken.
The amount of alcohol consumed during such sessions can be increased if drinking in rounds. This is because the pace is generally set by others, or whoever’s round it is next.
This regular drinking is a big step towards dependence upon alcohol. Put simply, the more you drink the more you want.
Step 3 – Problem Drinking:
This type of drinking can quickly fall into place with regular drinking. Many find that as their drinking increases it impacts on their life.
They may feel depressed, suffer with sleep problems, have relationship difficulties and problems at work, but they continue with their drinking because the ‘pleasurable’ feelings received are perceived to be stronger than the negative impact it is having on their lives.
Step 4 – Dependence is not yet an addiction:
It is possible for someone to be dependent upon alcohol but not yet fully addicted to it. Dependence upon alcohol means that alcohol has become the most important thing to you. It is prioritised even though you are fully aware of the adverse effect your habit is causing.
It also follows that due to an increasing tolerance of alcohol you need to increase the amount consumed on a regular basis. This is required to achieve the same effects as previously experienced.
You will also become increasingly aware of increased withdrawal symptoms when trying to sober up. These uncomfortable and unwanted feelings are easily quashed by having ‘just one drink’ to ease the discomfort.
Inevitably that one drink turns into another and so the spiral into full blown alcoholism increases pace.
Step 5 – Addiction is achieved:
Through a continued dependence upon alcoholism you will find addiction. This is where a person does not simply drink for pleasure. They have developed a physical and psychological desire and need to drink.
These very strong cravings leave them with depression and angst until they recommence drinking, many by this stage have also become addicted to other substances.
Traits of such drinking are that a person displays compulsive behaviour and will drink whenever or wherever it is possible. This is regardless of the time of day or any social obligations they are due to attend to.
Be aware of the risks and do not feel embarrassed to seek help:
As mentioned at the beginning of the piece, millions of adults enjoy an occasional drink and do so in moderation.
If you feel that your occasional drinking is becoming more regular and moderation is flying out of the window, then it is vital that you seek professional help as soon as possible.
There are very well-organised rehabilitation establishments with years of experience in helping people overcome their alcohol issues. The knowledgeable and caring councillors employed can give vital assistance in terms of helping you overcome excessive alcohol consumption.
The vital thing to remember is that the sooner you address these potential problems the easier it will be to overcome them.