man ponders how addictive is alcohol

How Addictive is Alcohol?

Statistics show alcohol can be extremely addictive. In fact, alcohol addiction is much more common than drug addiction. Over 5% of people 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 2017, and nearly 30% of adults will struggle with alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives. If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, seek evidence-based interventions like a cognitive behavioral therapy program in Worcester, Massachusetts.

How Addictive is Alcohol?

How addictive is alcohol? The fact that alcohol addiction far outweighs addiction to illicit drugs suggests that alcohol is extremely addictive. Some studies show that 1 in 12 Americans have alcohol use disorder.

Is Social Acceptance to Blame?

It’s important to realize that social acceptance plays a part in the number of people addicted to alcohol. It is much more socially acceptable to drink alcohol than to use illicit drugs. However, when someone develops alcohol use disorder, their behavior is no longer socially acceptable. Social acceptance plays a big role in people beginning to use alcohol. However, it’s role in alcoholism is likely minimal.

Alcohol and the Brain

Just as important as the question of how addictive is alcohol is the question of why alcohol addiction affects some people more severely than others. With many drugs, the majority of people who try the drug or use it on a regular basis become addicted to it. With alcohol, many people are perfectly able to control their alcohol use. For them, it’s hard to understand why the person with an alcohol use disorder can’t simply stop or control their drinking.

It turns out, the answer lies in the brain of the alcoholic.

Endorphins and Addiction

Endorphins are the chemical culprit responsible for every addiction, whether substance or behavior. These endorphins are your body’s natural opiate. When they are released, you feel happy and relaxed. Pain is relieved. Worries disappear. Large doses of endorphins can even bring euphoria. This is your body’s way of rewarding and encouraging good behavior.

When you do something good for yourself or your body, endorphins are released.

A few examples of situations that release endorphins are:

  • Hugging
  • Acing a test
  • Getting a compliment at work
  • Exercising

It’s easy to see the body’s motivation for creating this system. This keeps us wanting to perform behaviors that are good for us in some way. The problem is that your brain can’t always distinguish between good and bad. Chemicals like alcohol and other drugs cause your brain to release endorphins. Your brain has no way of distinguishing this from a natural release, so it begins to encourage the behavior that caused the release.

This is why people experience cravings and find it so hard to stop once they are addicted. Their brains are literally telling them to continue the behavior. Every time the behavior is engaged in, more endorphins are released, strengthening the desire.

How Alcoholic Brains are Different

Scientists believe they have discovered why some people are more at risk for developing alcohol use disorder. MRI scans have revealed that the brain of an alcoholic releases endorphins in response to drinking at a much higher rate than a nonalcoholic brain. It’s believed that other factors are at work in alcohol addiction as well. However, this offers some insight into the question of how addictive is alcohol, and why it varies so much from person to person.

Addiction Treatment at Washburn House

For those who struggle with alcohol addiction, help is available. Washburn’s House alcohol detox center and alcohol addiction treatment programs provide comprehensive treatment to help you find recovery. Evidence-based therapies and holistic treatments provide complete healing for the mind, body and soul. Treatment programs at Washburn House can include:

Hope and Help Are Available

How addictive is alcohol for you personally? If you find yourself addicted to alcohol and want to stop or slow your drinking, Washburn House is here to help. Don’t attempt to stop alcohol on your own. Get professional help and support that can ensure you are both safe and successful. Contact us at 855.298.3104 today to learn more about our services.

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