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Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can be devastating for families. Excessive or regular drinking can cause long-term physical and psychological health issues, as well as cause behaviour changes which lead to breakdowns in relationships with loved ones.

The development of alcohol addiction can often go undetected by the person themselves or loved ones. This can prolong the issue and lead to people not seeking treatment and continuously drinking, causing more damage to their health. According to the latest alcohol statistics, in England alone, there are an estimated 602,391% dependent drinkers with only 18% of them receiving the treatment they need.

To find out whether you or a loved one may have an alcohol addiction, it’s important to understand how alcohol addiction can be caused, the impacts drinking can have and the most effective methods of treatment for alcohol addiction.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that causes an inability to control or prevent alcohol consumption, leading to regular and excessive drinking habits. Long-term alcohol misuse can have significant health impacts that are detrimental to a person’s physical health, leading to conditions such as liver disease and high blood pressure, and impacting their mental health.

What is the difference between alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence?

The terms ‘alcohol addiction’ and ‘alcohol dependence’ are often used interchangeably and misconstrued as referring to the same condition. However, key differences in a person’s symptoms and behaviour can separate the two.

Someone with an alcohol addiction often displays various behavioural symptoms such as binge drinking and severe or chronic alcoholism which is caused by an inability to control their drinking habits. Those with an alcohol addiction have an intense desire or obsession with alcohol that prevents them from consuming alcohol.

Being dependent or having an ‘alcohol dependence’, on the other hand, refers specifically to the physical reliance on alcohol to function daily. This means that individuals turn to regular alcohol consumption to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring.

Causes of Alcohol Addiction

There are various ways that alcohol addiction can be caused by factors that can be controlled by someone’s lifestyle choices, and hereditary factors.


Although it is not a direct cause of alcohol addiction, someone with relatives with alcohol issues or having a genetic predisposition can increase their risk of developing an alcohol addiction.

A history of family members with drinking problems can increase the risk of a genetic predisposition which affects alcohol metabolism. If these genes are in a family bloodline, it can heighten the risk of being transmitted to children by their parents.

Environmental Factors – Social/Cultural

Social or cultural factors can cause someone’s drinking habits and risk of alcohol addiction. A strong ‘drinking culture’ or attitude towards drinking within a social or cultural environment can encourage unhealthy drinking attitudes and lead to an alcohol addiction further down the line.

Cultural attitudes towards drinking can be instilled in an area where a large percentage of their community has poor drinking habits and is encouraged. Social factors include poor attitudes towards drinking from family, friends or work employees who regularly or excessively drink and impose these behaviours on those around them.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Spotting the signs of alcohol addiction is important for reducing the health impacts of alcoholism on the body and the mind. However, it can be difficult to spot the signs of alcohol addiction for the person with the addiction and their loved ones.

These signs can be noticed by looking at the way the person feels when they are withdrawn from alcohol use and how they behave whilst they are withdrawn from alcohol use.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When withdrawn from alcohol, individuals with an alcohol addiction often experience severe withdrawal symptoms that affect them physically and mentally.

Regular and excessive drinking creates a physical reliance on alcohol to function normally during daily activities. Without alcohol in the body, people experience physical and withdrawal symptoms:

  • Intense cravings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts

The intensity of withdrawal symptoms can often lead to individuals relapsing and consuming alcohol again to feel ‘normal’, which creates a vicious cycle of alcohol misuse and worsens the problem.

Behavioural Differences

Alcohol addiction can change an individual’s behaviour and personality, often influencing their lifestyle choices and causing issues with their relationships with family, friends, and partners.

Behavioural differences vary but the common changes in an individual’s behaviour derive from alcohol symptoms including lack of energy or drive, mood swings and anxiety. These symptoms can lead individuals to make poor lifestyle decisions:

  • Avoiding social activities without alcohol
  • Aggressive or argumentative with loved ones
  • Refusal to admit drinking problem
  • Neglecting work or family responsibilities
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Lack of self-care

Psychological Issues

Alcohol addiction can take its toll mentally, causing mixed feelings of loneliness and shame among feelings of joy. Alcohol can change cognitive functions and the way that our brains think:

  • Lack of judgement
  • Altered perception of reality
  • Memory impairment
  • Poor emotional regulation

These changes to our cognitive functions can create larger mental health issues that impact someone’s overall quality of life and happiness such as anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Someone aware of their alcohol addiction can experience great feelings of shame and depression, which can manifest itself in aggression or denial of their issue. Refusal that there is an issue and refusing further treatment can prolong the issue and cause further damage to their health.

Speak to us about recovering from alcohol addiction

Start your recovery journey today with Rehab Directory

We provide 24/7, free advice and support about rehabilitation and how it can help with recovery from an alcohol addiction. We help you or a loved one gain quick and easy admission to local rehabilitation centres in your area that suit your requirements. Speak to a member of our team today to find out more information.

Impacts of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can have a negative impact on all aspects of someone’s life, including their health, social life, and stability. Alcohol’s impact on bodily and mental functions can change an individual’s lifestyle and their attitudes towards their family, friends, partners, and their job.

Health Issues

In addition to health issues caused by withdrawal from alcohol, long-term misuse of alcohol can cause serious irreversible health conditions. Alcohol can have a negative impact on all organ systems in the body, which can cause a series of health issues:

  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Mental health issues
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive issues
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

Relationship Breakdowns

Alcoholism can change cognitive functions in the brain and alter an individual’s behaviour and attitudes towards their relationships with loved ones. Relationships can break down, because of unhealthy drinking habits, due to changes in behaviour:

  • Aggression
  • Lack of interest
  • Low energy
  • Low work drive
  • Poor decision making

Work and Financial Issues

Drinking can have a negative impact on work performance and affect an individual’s decision-making or judgement when excessively spending money on alcohol.

Alcoholism can get individuals in trouble at the workplace and potentially fired from their position, due to poor work performance or being drunk at work. As well as the financial strain of purchasing alcohol regularly, this can contribute to someone’s financial situation and cause major concerns for their financial stability.

Treatments for Alcohol Addiction

There are various treatments and methods that are available to help treat alcohol addiction and prevent future relapse. As well as effectively withdrawing from the physical reliance on alcohol, treatments focus on the psychological impacts of the addiction and helping people understand their thoughts and feelings.

Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are organised meetings for people with alcohol addictions to speak with each other in a group setting. These meetings are locally organised and are completely free, making them easily accessible to take part in.

AA meetings provide an opportunity to speak about feelings and share experiences with other people in similar situations.


Alcohol rehabilitation assists with safe withdrawal from alcohol and provides therapy treatments to help people overcome their addiction.

Inpatient rehabilitation treatment involves staying at a residential centre and receiving 24/7 advice and support. This is an immersive experience and helps residents focus solely on their recovery. Outpatient rehabilitation treatment involves therapy treatments in a neutral environment, where the individual is expected to stay home.

Rehabilitation includes a series of services that make it the most effective method for treating alcohol addiction:

  • Medically supervised detoxification
  • Nutrition plan
  • Immersive experience
  • Therapy treatments
  • 24/7 support and advice
  • State-of-the-art facilities
  • Aftercare

Find Out More About Rehabilitation for Alcohol Addiction

To find out more information about how rehabilitation can help with recovery then speak to us today. We offer free advice and support about rehabilitation and can help you find rehabilitation centres in your area that suit your requirements.