How Alcohol Is Addictive For Some People And Not For Others

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How Alcohol Is Addictive For Some People And Not For Others

Have you ever wondered why some people get addicted to alcohol and others don’t? It can be a bit weird because some of the people who binge drink in their college years and early twenties never develop alcohol problems and others develop alcohol use disorder. I can hold my hands up here and admit to doing some heavy drinking back in my college days. Back then, I never actually knew how alcohol is addictive for some people. I wouldn’t even have been able to spot the warning signs.

Back when I was in college, you were a hero depending on how much alcohol you could tolerate. Heavy drinkers were looked up to. Everyone else was a wimp! Talk about peer pressure! When I thought about writing this article, I realized many people are still unable to spot the warning signs, even into middle age. In this article, I’m going to reveal the seven signs that may indicate you are experiencing excessive alcohol consumption.

What Is In Alcohol That Makes It Addictive?

There are two main elements to the addictiveness of alcohol

  • Physical: we have chemicals in our body that are produced in greater quantities when we drink alcohol plus there can also be a genetic predisposition to addiction
  • Psychological: many people use alcohol as medication for uncomfortable emotions or to “escape”

Alcohol interacts with your brain chemicals, causing a huge spike in chemicals such as endorphins. The upshot of this is that when you are on the way to getting drunk, your brain believes that this feels lovely. Your brain’s reward system is having a party. Suddenly all of those negative feelings are washed away in a tidal wave of pure pleasure. Our brains are hard-wired to seek out that pleasure again so this is why people repeat the behavior over and over again.

Why Do Some People Crave Alcohol More Than Others?

how alcohol is addictive

Firstly, on a physical level, some people are capable of producing more dopamine than others. It’s the same with endorphins. Some people create more endorphins while experiencing the same situation as the next person. In practical terms, their feelings of pleasure are greater than the next person even though they might be having the same experience. Alcohol causes us to produce more dopamine and endorphins in line with what we are capable of producing. This is why the effects of alcohol are different from person to person.

You may wonder what endorphins do even though you have experienced their effect before. When you have more endorphins you experience less pain. So for instance, if you are suffering physical or emotional pain and you drink, the extra endorphins that are created seem to numb the pain. Where it gets complicated is that each person has either a greater or lesser level of endorphins in their body. Less endorphins mean you are more susceptible to depression. So people who get addicted to alcohol could just be getting addicted to this new higher level of endorphin.

Why Do Some People Become Addicted While Others Don't?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, when I went to college, you were a “hero” if you could drink more than anyone else. As I write this article, I am in my 50’s and that statement seems so stupid now. Many of my peers while I was in college, also had a strong relationship with alcohol. Most never developed an alcohol misuse problem but a couple did. They got stuck in a pattern of heavy alcohol use and, even though they weren’t stupid and were fully aware of the negative consequences, they kept going. 

I have a cousin whose father was an alcoholic. This cousin started drinking heavily in his early twenties and had a full-blown drinking problem by his late twenties. His problem was so severe that it impaired his cognitive function so much that by age forty he sounded like he was slurring his words even when he wasn’t drunk. I often wondered how much of his problem was down to genetic factors and how much of it was a coping mechanism for witnessing his father’s abusive behavior while drunk.

What Deficiency Makes You Crave Alcohol?

People who are low in B vitamins tend to have less serotonin and dopamine. If that’s you, then you may feel a little “flatter” than others. It may seem as if life is just “ok” but never great. Then alcohol comes along and gives you this great big spike of pleasure and it’s what you’ve been missing all along. This can lead to addiction very easily, simply because you begin to figure out that the only thing that makes you feel happiness is alcohol.

This is why making sure you have a healthy, balanced diet is really important. Having a self-care mindset will help immensely, and learning about proper nutrition will protect you from ill health, serious health problems, and, most importantly, when it comes to alcohol, you’ll be better able to control alcohol use. If you track the story of dependent drinkers, you’ll probably find a vicious cycle of low production of serotonin leading to an excessively high release of dopamine after a certain amount of alcohol, which in turn, depletes the small amount of serotonin you have, leading to craving more alcohol.

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Self-Hypnosis Audio To Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you visualize your new sober future and get excited about it. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Alcohol?

How quickly physical dependence happens varies from person to person and it is dependent on both genetic and environmental factors. For instance:

  • You are more at risk of alcohol addiction if there is a family history of alcoholism. The question “Is alcoholism genetic?” is one that has been hotly debated but research indicates that on average, an addict produces more endorphins in response to alcohol than a person who drinks an equal amount but doesn’t get addicted.
  • The people you hang out with can help facilitate the development of addiction. For instance, if you hang with a person who is into excessive drinking, you’ll be more likely to do that yourself. Remember, we all have a need to fit into groups so if that group has bad behaviors it’s quite likely you’ll develop them too.
  • If alcohol has always been used to celebrate, you develop a strong positive association. In other words, you develop drinking habits. For instance, how many sporting teams celebrate the winning of a competition by spraying champagne? In this way, it becomes acceptable and expected of you. It becomes a habit.
  • Self-medicating – if you have depression and you don’t like yourself or your life, it can seem like a good idea to have a drink to ease the pain. Of course, if the pain is constant (either physical or emotional), then alcohol dependence can become an issue very quickly.

The short answer is there is no set time scale during which a person becomes addicted. It really is down to the individual to educate themselves so that they know if they are getting addicted and to find appropriate treatment options. For most people, they only realize they are addicted when it’s too late.

Alcohol Abuse Signs

If you are a family member, romantic partner, or friend of someone you think might have an alcohol problem, here are some of the alcohol abuse signs to look out for. These might indicate that you need professional help.

  1. Have you noticed they drink alone? Or maybe you noticed them being secretive about their drinking. Something as simple as sneaking a shot of whisky while at the bar ordering other drinks can be the start of an alcohol problem.
  2. Do they need a drink “to relax”? Or maybe you’ve started to notice a pattern of excuses that all lead to drinking.
  3. Have they started to get a bit irritable or do they get annoyed if you were to tell them they are drinking too much?
  4. How’s their memory? Have they started to forget one or two things that they never would have forgotten before?
  5. Have they put some distance between them and family members or friends? Are they hanging out with new people or have the changed their preferred social situations?

Some of these signs give you some clues about how alcohol is addictive.

overcome alcohol addiction mp3 cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio To Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you visualize your new sober future and get excited about it. 

4 Stages Of Alcoholism

There are four main stages of alcoholism. See if you can spot yourself at one of these stages.

  1. Stage One – Binge Drinking: This is where you might drink as a bit of stress relief or escape. Typically, you drink quite a bit and often experience hangovers.
  2. Stage Two – Blackouts: Now you drink a bit more often, maybe by yourself or in secret, and start experiencing periods where you can’t remember what happened.
  3. Stage Three – Everyday Drinking: You drink more often, maybe even daily, and have some physical side effects like slight shaking, trembling, or moodiness.
  4. Stage Four – Fully Alcoholic: You have to drink or else you’ll have pretty severe withdrawal symptoms.

Who Is Most At Risk For Alcoholism?

The following can mean you are at higher risk of developing alcoholism:

  1. When You Start: Statistics in the United States show that the younger you start drinking heavily, the more likely you are to develop a problem in later life.
  2. An Alcoholic Parent: Having an alcoholic parent can be a contributing factor to developing a substance abuse disorder in later life. This can be either genetic or learned behavior.
  3. Extended Drinking: Drinking to excess for a significant period of time can cause you to develop a problem. Social factors can play a role (eg. if you work in a company that has a drinking culture).
  4. Psychological Factors: if you suffer from certain mental health conditions, alcohol may have a greater effect on you which may cause you to develop a stronger desire to repeat the experience.
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What Can Be The Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol Abuse?

  1. Cirrhosis Of The Liver – one of the best-known effects of long-term alcohol abuse is liver problems or liver disease.
  2. Obesity – you’ve probably heard of the term “beer belly”. As most alcohol contains sugar, this affects the body in terms of stopping your body from burning fat, the high sugar content makes you feel hungry, when drunk you’ll probably eat junk food plus alcohol is high in calories.
  3. Heart Problems – you have a higher risk of having a heart attack
  4. Higher Stroke Risk – you have a higher risk of having a stroke
  5. Trouble Concentrating – typically people who are addicted to alcohol have shorter attention spans than people who are not addicted
  6. Difficulty With Short-Term Memory – eg. you may have problems remembering why you went to the shop
  7. Slurred Speech – You may slur your words even when not drinking. Constant abuse of alcohol damages the part of the brain involved in the formation of speech and many long-term abusers of alcohol have a permanent slurring problem even though they may be sober for quite a while.

Is Alcoholism Classified As A Mental Illness?

Since back as far as 1980, The American Psychiatric Association has described alcoholism as a primary mental health disorder. The reason it is classified as a mental health disorder is that it shares a common observable symptom – brain function alters. As with any addiction, alcoholism changes brain chemistry which then leads to all of the other negative effects and health risks.

overcome alcohol addiction mp3 cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio To Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you visualize your new sober future and get excited about it. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

There is no set alcohol withdrawal timeline because no two people’s drinking or physiology is exactly the same. It depends on factors like body size and weight, the amount you drink, the frequency with which you drink, and whether or not you suffer from mental health problems or physical pain-related conditions.

Here is a (very) rough timeline that you can expect

  • Within 6-12 hours – you may have a headache, trembling or shaking slightly, upset stomach, mild anxiety, or sleeping problems
  • 12-24 hours – some people may experience hallucinations of various types, fever, or high blood pressure
  • 24-72 hours – seizure risk is at its highest and you may experience the DTs. Always seek medical help if you experience seizure or delirium tremens

The rule of thumb is that if your alcohol intake is very high DO NOT STOP until you speak to a doctor because your body may not be able to handle the level of alcohol withdrawal symptoms you will experience. in really severe cases that can be life-threatening.

Treatments For Alcohol Withdrawal

There are two main strands of treatment

  • Entering a hospital, rehab unit, or residential care center to facilitate detox and then to deal with the thoughts and behaviors that caused the problem in the first place.
  • Outpatient treatment means detoxing at home and then attending some form of talking therapy to smooth the transition to being alcohol-free

As you’ve probably gathered from some of the paragraphs (above) that deal with how alcohol is addictive, deciding which is the appropriate treatment for you depends on your individual mindset and pattern of use of alcohol. This is why the best person to make that call is your doctor.

overcome alcohol addiction mp3 cover image

Self-Hypnosis Audio To Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Self-hypnosis can be a great tool to help you visualize your new sober future and get excited about it. 

Self-Hypnosis For Alcohol Addiction

I firmly believe that an alcoholic needs to use every help at their disposal so I regularly recommend listening to a self-hypnosis audio. I have recorded a really powerful self-hypnosis audio called “Overcome Alcohol Addiction” which you can download right now and listen to every day. 

Listen to this self-hypnosis recording every day for at least thirty days. This recording has been scripted and voiced by one of the world’s leading Clinical Hypnotherapists, Paul J Hunter, so you are assured of the highest quality and standard of recording.

Over fifteen years of experience have gone into this powerful hypnosis audio and because I understand how alcohol is addictive, my suggestions will help you

  • Feel like you are more in control
  • Stop self-criticising and self-blaming
  • Develop powerful confidence in your ability to say “no”

This self-hypnosis for alcohol addiction recording will help to keep you on a steady trajectory toward long-term recovery. Once you’ve taken those first steps, here’s a helpful article that might interest you – “Next Step Sober Living – Fall In Love With Being Sober“.

Picture of Author: Paul Hunter

Author: Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here



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Picture of Paul Hunter

Paul Hunter

Although thousands of people read his blog every month, Paul's path to success was not an easy one. Click here to read his amazing story "From Unwanted Baby And Adopted To A Respected Self Help Blogger". If you want to send Paul a quick message, then visit his contact page here

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