Depending on Alcohol to Solve Your Problems

The human brain uses a complex system of chemical signals to manage countless physiological and psychological functions. From appetite and eating to sexual attraction, optimism, motivation, pain management, anxiety control and motivation, this system reinforces behaviors by releasing trace amounts of a naturally occurring chemical called dopamine into the bloodstream. A specialized part of the brain called the reward center picks up that dopamine and produces feelings of well-being, happiness, satisfaction and rest. Whatever behavior led to the release of the dopamine is then reinforced in the brain and the person will be subconsciously motivated to repeat it.

Alcohol, Anxiety and Addiction

Like many other drugs, alcohol has the ability to block physical and emotional pain signals in the brain by causing the body to release extremely high levels of dopamine. This gives the user euphoric feelings associated with drinking as it stimulates the reward center. Any feelings of anxiety, sadness or fear will be relieved by the spike of dopamine, including emotions associated with the following:

  • Relationship struggles
  • Financial distress
  • Fears or phobias
  • Social anxiety
  • Health challenges or physical pain
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Work stress
  • Legal problems
  • Psychological challenges or illness

However, the relief offered by alcohol is short-lived. The frequent presence of alcohol also causes the body to stop producing its own natural supply of dopamine associated with other healthy behaviors. The result is that the addict requires a near constant supply of alcohol in order to feel normal. Additionally, as the drinker develops a tolerance to alcohol abuse, he will require larger amounts of alcohol more frequently in order to achieve the desired effects. In time, he will feel the need to drink constantly even though the alcohol may no longer be able to block his emotional pain.

Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

There is a fine line between safe use of alcohol and addiction. The road to alcoholism is often so gradual that the drinker does not even realize what is happening to him. The sooner the disease is identified and addressed, however, the greater the chance that the addict will be able to recover physically and psychologically.

To determine whether your use of alcohol may be evolving into an addiction, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you are a male, do you drink more than 2 drinks per day or 10 per week?
  • If you are a female, do you drink more than 1 drink per day or 5 per week?
  • Have you ever found yourself turning to alcohol for relief during troubling times?
  • Do you have a hard time stopping once you start drinking?
  • Do you think about alcohol regularly and plan your day or week around dedicated drinking times?
  • Have you lost interest in relationships or activities that were once important to you in lieu of drinking?
  • Have you been dishonest with friends or loved ones about your alcohol use?
  • Have you tried unsuccessfully to quit drinking?

Alcohol Dependency Recovery Help

If you answered yes to any of these questions, please call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have and can introduce you to a new way of coping with the challenges of life. Alcohol may block the symptoms of your problems for a short time but it eventually makes the underlying problems worse. We are here to help. Please call today.