If you are struggling with alcohol addiction it can be very easy to feel lost, isolated and misunderstood. Our society has many misconceptions about alcoholism, and it may feel that many people simply consider your addiction a character defect, judging you or confused about why you can't simply "control yourself."
The truth is that alcoholism is a disease that you did not cause and can not simply make stop by your own power, but it is a disease you can get treatment for, transiting to a healthy, sober life. Here is some important information that can help alcoholics both understand the reality of their condition, and explain what alcohol addiction to friends and family members seeking to be understanding and supportive.
The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism are considered alcohol use disorders, in which a person drinks excessively, to the point of negative effects on health, mental and emotional well being, and careers or social interactions. Many people drinking alcohol beyond levels of moderation, some even binge drinking (consuming more than 4-5 drinks in a two hour period) creating many problematic conditions.
Many people, particularly college students and young adults may face social pressure to drink at these beyond responsible levels. Over time, consuming alcohol at high levels can results in serious and permanent damage to health and mental functioning.
However, many of the people drinking at excessive levels do not have alcohol addiction. Beyond simply drinking at high levels, someone addicted to alcohol will feel obsessed and helpless without alcohol.
He or she will organize life around getting a drink, and feel unable to function without it. Trying to "cut back" or drink in moderation will be an extremely difficult challenge for an alcoholic, since the condition makes sobriety feel undesirable.
Alcoholism means that getting drunk has become a person's central reason for being, no matter what harm is caused.
What genetics cause, and what they don't
Like all mental health disorders, alcohol addiction does not have one single, simple cause, but is created through a complex interplay of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Genetic factors may cause someone to be predisposed to abuse alcohol and develop dependency on it, but current research suggests that only around 50% of alcohol addiction can be attributed to genetic factors.
Certain environments, including ones with high levels of stress, high levels of isolation, and and ones in which high alcohol use is normalized can contribute to the development of alcohol addiction. Mood disorders, low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness or being out of place, unresolved childhood trauma, and predispositions to impulsivity can also contribute to the development of severe misuse of alcohol.
Thus, therapeutic techniques can be extremely helpful in causing a potential alcoholic to develop alternative, more positive ways of coping with internal stress.
Treatment, and hope is possible
Alcohol addiction is not your fault, and wallowing in excessive guilt and shame will not help you seek treatment. However, you are also not totally helpless, but there are a wide array of potentially effective treatment options and ways of managing your addiction, so you can be empowered to live a sober life.
Medications, support groups, and counseling services are all available once you decide to take the first step towards healing. It will involve a lot of hard work, since addiction is such an all-consuming habit that will take a lot of work to unlearn.
Millions of people are walking the road with you, and from just a small group of them, you can gain advice and encouragement to pursue your recovery.