Are You Addicted to Alcohol?
Alcoholism is a debilitating condition characterized by problematic drinking that causes distress in the drinker's life and, often, in the lives of his or her loved ones. Alcoholism signs and symptoms.
If you are looking for more information on alcohol, addiction and treatment, read on to learn more about:
How to Tell if You or a Loved One Is Addicted to Alcohol
An individual who displays 2 or more of the following signs or symptoms within the past year
may already be struggling with a drinking problem or, more technically, meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
These are some of the common signs of alcoholism. No matter how many of these signs are present, if alcohol is causing any significant impairment or distress in your life, an alcohol recovery center or other form of substance abuse treatment can provide help.
Getting Treatment and Starting Recovery
More than 17 million people suffer from alcohol dependency, and an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths per year.
Despite these alarming numbers, only about 20% of alcoholics receive treatment for their condition.
If you are looking for an alcohol addiction treatment center, remember that what works for one person might not work for another and vice versa. That's why it's important that you educate yourself on the different alcohol recovery options. Various mental health and medical professionals will also be instrumental in directing the type of treatment you undergo. But knowing your options can help you advocate for yourself and help you to ultimately make a sound treatment decision.
Some common treatments for alcoholism include:
Medications Used to Treat Alcohol Dependence
Some alcohol treatment programs use a medically assisted approach to aid the recovery process. Doctors or therapists may prescribe the following medications when treating you for an alcohol addiction. As an integrated part of some recovery programs, these medications have been beneficial in decreasing drinking habits and lowering relapse rates.
Signs and symptoms of alcoholism withdrawal
Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Dependency
Alcohol dependence can bring about harmful short-term effects on the body and brain, which include: 
Additionally, there is an increased rate of suicide when someone is under the influence of alcohol.  If you are concerned about a loved one committing suicide while intoxicated, call 911 to get him or her the appropriate medical attention immediately.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Dependency
Long-term alcohol dependence can cause permanent damage to the body and brain.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn't directly kill brain cells. Chronic drinking behavior can result in changes in the size of brain cells and dysfunction in certain brain regions, such as the cerebellum - a part of the brain involved with motor functioning.
The long-term effects of alcohol abuse can include:
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
If you are dependent on alcohol and suddenly stop drinking, you may experience severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal effects that begin within a few hours to a few days after the last drink.
For at-risk individuals, a detox center or alcohol recovery center will be necessary to provide medical monitoring during this time. Medications will be administered to preclude against dangerous adverse events such as seizures and to make you as comfortable as possible - easing the detox transition.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
Some people may go through a serious and deadly withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens (also known as "the shakes"). Delirium tremens symptoms include:
Why Is Alcohol So Addictive?
Alcohol affects many different neurotransmitters in the brain. One major neurotransmitter impacted by alcohol is gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. An increase in GABA activity can decrease anxiety and result in sedation.
It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and alcohol acts as an agonist on the receptor that ultimately amplifies GABA inhibition.
Further, alcohol inhibits glutamate, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. Alcohol also causes a release of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters associated with reward, motivation and mood.
Drinking alcohol targets GABA and glutamate in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, and the nucleus accumbens, which is a major reward center.
These mechanisms play a role in mediating the pleasure you experience when you drink alcohol. The enjoyment achieved by drinking positively reinforces the behavior.
If you regularly consume alcohol, you will build up a tolerance. This means you will need an increased amount of alcohol to achieve the same desired effect or "buzz." An increased tolerance drives many to drink more and more which, in turn, increases the likelihood of dependence.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Effects of Alcohol on Exercise/Fitness?
Alcohol has several negative effects on exercise and athletic performance.
Find Help for Alcoholism
If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, it's better to get help sooner rather than later to avoid severe health problems. Contact a recovery support specialist today at 1-888-319-2606 to get more information on alcohol rehab programs.
. Valenzuela, C. (1997). Alcohol and Neurotransmitter Interactions. Alcohol Health and Research World,21(2), 145-145.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse signs symptoms
. Connor JP, Haber PS, Hall WD. Alcohol use disorders. Lancet 2015 [Epub ahead of print].
. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
. Nasqvi NH, Morgenstern J. (2015). Cognitive neuroscience approaches to understanding behavior change in alcohol use disorder treatments. Alcohol Res 37:29-38.
. Mohsen, N., &, Ayoubi, S. (2014). Effects of Alcohol on Athletic Performance. Asia Pacific Journal of Medical Toxicology,3(22), 12-12.
. Parr EB, Camera DM, Areta JL, Burke LM, Phillips SM, Hawley JA, et al. (2014) Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88384. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088384