Alcohol Addiction

Many adults enjoy alcohol. It's a social part of many cultures and can help you relax. However, while moderate drinking causes minimal concern, problems arise when you start to become dependent on, or preoccupied with alcohol, and drink excessive amounts frequently. Alcohol use disorder (which includes a level that's called alcoholism or alcohol dependence) is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms.

Dependency on alcohol can arise from different factors, including upbringing, your social environment and your emotional wellbeing. You are more susceptible to developing a problem if you have a family history of alcoholism or suffer from a mental health condition - such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder - because alcohol may be used to self-medicate.

This dependency can sneak up on you, so you may not realise for some time that you have a real problem. You might still be in denial. You might not be aware of just how much you drink, or even recognise how many issues in your life are related to alcohol.

Over time it can wreak havoc on your life - your relationships, your work, and your finances. It can affect your judgement and cause severe depression. It can also lead to serious physical and psychological health issues such as liver disease, psychosis, or dementia, and make you more susceptible to self-harm and suicide. Even a mild disorder can escalate rapidly, so seeking help and starting treatment early is important.

Recognising alcohol addiction: what are the signs and symptoms?

Alcohol dependency affects everyone differently and can range from mild to severe, depending on the behavioural and physical signs and symptoms you experience. These may include:

  • Drinking earlier in the day
  • Feeling anxious or irritable without a drink and not being able to socialise without one
  • Hiding your drink from others
  • Having strong cravings or urges to consume alcohol
  • Failing to fulfil professional, home, or school obligations due to repeated alcohol use
  • Being defensive when others notice, and comment on, your drinking habits
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms - such sweating and shaking, hallucinations, or problems sleeping - when you don't drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms
  • Difficulty having, or maintaining, an erection
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling depressed, angry, disgusted, or suicidal, because of drinking

Treating alcohol dependency: what are the options available?

Treatment for alcohol dependency can vary and depends on the severity of your addiction, any medical conditions you may have, your lifestyle, and your personal circumstances.

There are a range of highly effective approaches, including detox and withdrawal, residential treatment programs, psychotherapy, counselling and support groups, as well as nutrition and lifestyle changes.

If you think you are suffering from alcohol dependency, please get in touch to arrange an assessment.