Everything you need to know about alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction, also called alcoholism, is a damaging disease that can affect many different types of people. Medical experts have carried out in-depth research to determine what may cause someone to develop an addiction to alcohol, but they have yet to find a single cause. Behavioral, genetic, and psychological factors all play a role in whether or not someone is an alcoholic. 

Being addicted to alcohol isn’t the same as being “addicted” to chocolate or “addicted” to video games. Alcohol addiction is a genuine disease that causes changes in the brain and neurochemistry. Because of this, someone addicted to alcohol may struggle to control their behavior. 

Alcoholism looks different in different people. The type of alcohol consumed, how often it’s consumed, and the severity of the disease varies greatly from person to person. For example, some people binge drink liquor and then stay sober for some time, while others drink wine heavily all day. 

Alcohol addiction is defined as having a reliance on drinking alcohol and being unable to remain sober for a long time. 


It can be difficult to recognize alcohol addiction because it takes different forms. Unlike class A drugs, alcohol is easy to find and acceptable in many cultures. It takes center stage in many social situations and is strongly linked to celebrating and having a good time. 

Because drinking alcohol is an ordinary part of life for many people, it’s difficult to tell the difference between someone who likes to have a few drinks and an alcoholic. 

Some symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

  • High tolerance of alcohol or lack of hangovers
  • Going places where alcohol is present and avoiding places where it isn’t
  • Avoiding contact with friends and loved ones
  • Being dependent on alcohol to function in everyday life
  • Professional or legal problems, such as losing a job or being arrested
  • Increasing how much or how often alcohol is drunk
  • Drinking at inappropriate times, such as in the early morning or at work
  • Hiding alcohol or hiding while drinking
  • Increase in depression, lethargy, and other emotional issues 

Because addiction often gets worse over time, it’s crucial to look for early warning signs and act quickly. If alcohol addiction is acknowledged and treated early on, the person suffering may be able to avoid the dangerous consequences of the disease. 

If you think you know someone whose struggling with alcoholism, it’s a good idea to reach out to them. Do your best to approach them in a supportive and understanding way. Be careful with your words and avoid shaming them or making them feel guilty. Acting this way could put them on the defensive and make them resistant to accepting your help. 

Health complications

Alcohol addiction comes with many dangerous and damaging health complications. It can result in liver disease and heart disease, both of which can be fatal. Alcoholism can also lead to:

  • Complications with diabetes
  • Birth defects
  • Problems with vision
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Ulcers
  • Sexual issues
  • Bone loss
  • Increased risk of cancer

The symptoms of alcohol addiction don’t just affect the person suffering from the disease. They can also affect the people around them. According to the CDC, drunk driving kills 28 people every day in the US. Drinking alcohol has also been connected with an increase in homicide and suicide. 

Treatment options

Alcoholism is an incredibly difficult disease to treat. For there to be even a chance of success, the person suffering from alcohol addiction must want to get better. If they don’t want to get sober, none of the treatment options will ever work. It’s important to understand that the recovery process for alcoholism is a life-long commitment. There’s no quick fix and the person with the addiction needs to be committed and dedicated every single day. 

Here are some of the options available for treating alcohol addiction:

  • Rehab: This is a common initial treatment option for people with alcoholism. There are outpatient and inpatient options available to help people cope with emotional challenges and withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Support groups: Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and Sober Recovery can help alcohol addicts deal with the challenges they have in everyday life. They can share relatable experiences with others and develop new, healthy friendships. 
  • Medical assistance: If someone is using alcohol to self-medicate, a trip to the doctor could help them avoid alcohol. A doctor can prescribe medication such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication that could help the sufferer feel better without alcohol.


Therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat alcohol addiction. Each session gives the person suffering an outlet to talk about their feelings and the struggles they’re dealing with. It also provides them with the opportunity to manage their withdrawal symptoms and develop the skills they need to avoid a relapse in the future. 

We all want someone to listen to us. If you know someone who you think is struggling with alcohol addiction, helping them start therapy may be just what they need to make the major change in their life. Send them this blog post and encourage them to get in touch with us today to take the first step.


The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741