Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

Alcohol Abuse & Addiction in Ohio

All throughout Ohio and the entire country, alcohol is a substance that is used by people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, classes, etc. When used in moderation by people who are old enough to legally drink, it can be enjoyed responsibly. In other instances, using alcohol can quickly lead to the abuse of alcohol. For the alcoholic, a casual beer can begin an obsession to drink, which can lead to addiction and binge drinking.

Here we will take a look at an overview of alcohol addiction by exploring what makes alcohol such a dangerous and addictive substance. We will also explore facts and statistics related to alcohol abuse in Ohio as well as the entire country.

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Table of Contents

Why is Alcohol Addictive?

Many people wonder why alcohol is addictive. Much like other addictive substances, alcohol is addictive because of the way it interacts with chemicals in the brain.

When a person drinks alcohol, it causes feel-good endorphins to be released in the brain, triggering a sense of pleasure. Alcohol causes endorphins to be released into the section of the brain that is associated with judgment, decision-making and addictive behavior.

When a substance causes the brain to release feel-good chemicals, the brain will then crave more of that substance. Gradually, you will need more and more of the substance to have the same effect, which is another reason alcohol can be such an addictive substance.

Alcohol is also not only socially acceptable, but it’s everywhere, making it difficult for some to abstain from drinking. Whether you are seeing beer commercial after beer commercial during a football game, being pressured to have a cocktail at a work function, or being offered champagne on a special occasion like a wedding or holiday, alcohol is extremely accessible.

What is the Difference between Alcohol Abuse and Addiction?

Alcohol abuse can mean excessive drinking even in the face of negative consequences, using alcohol to self-medicate or use alcohol even after it causes physical and/or mental harm. Alcohol addiction or alcoholism involves frequent alcohol abuse, the inability to control the amount or frequency of drinking and/or a dependence on alcohol—whether it is a mental or physical dependence.

See Related: What is a high-functioning alcoholic?

Alcohol Addiction Signs

How can you tell when frequent alcohol abuse has turned into alcohol addiction? There are a few things to be on the lookout for:

  • A tolerance has been built up, which means more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effects.
  • There is a lack of control over the amount or frequency of drinking.
  • A great deal of time is dedicated to drinking or recovering from drinking.
  • Other activities may be stopped altogether so that the person can drink more.
  • Harm has been done to relationships and to careers, but the person continues to drink.
  • The person drinks alone, drinks frequently or drinks early in the day.
  • The person attempts to lie about drinking or hide their drinking.
  • There are withdrawal symptoms if someone stops drinking for a short amount of time.
  • The person tries to quit drinking but is unsuccessful.

In the long term, heavy alcohol use can be extremely detrimental. It can lead to pancreatitis, cirrhosis, brain disorders (See: How Alcohol Causes Brain Damage), and the overall decline of physical and mental health.

Understanding the Effects of Alcohol

When alcohol is consumed, the central nervous system is slowed down. The overall functionality of the body as a whole is slowed down as well. This is because it is a depressant, which means it may also cause problems with coordination, slowed reaction times and slurred speech.

Because alcohol can have such a serious impact on logical reasoning and because it can lower inhibitions so much, when a person is intoxicated from consuming alcohol, he or she is likely to make poor decisions or engage in dangerous and risky behavior. When consumed in large amounts, it can even result in alcohol poisoning, coma, unconsciousness or death.

Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse may be happening if your consumption of alcohol is beginning to interfere with your other responsibilities. This can be your career, your education, or your family, and while it includes the times you are consuming alcohol, it can also include the times that being hungover has prevented you from engaging in your other responsibilities.

Some other significant side effects and signs of alcohol abuse to be aware of are:

  • Drinking in spite of a physical condition that will be made worse by alcohol
  • Decreased interest in significant relationships with family and friends
  • Being preoccupied with thoughts of alcohol such as how you will obtain your next drink or looking forward to the next time you drink
  • Dangerous or risky behaviors, especially behaviors you would not engage in soberly
  • Feeling like your drinking is out of control
  • Lack of interest or involvement in activities you used to enjoy

In the short-term, side effects of alcohol use can include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol Abuse Statistics and Facts

Because alcohol has become such a normal thing in American society, people can be shocked when hearing about alcohol abuse and addiction statistics. On television shows and movies, it is often glamorized, but it can contribute to a number of negative consequences.

Here are some national facts and statistics on alcohol abuse:

Alcohol is a significant problem for people all over the country, and for many citizens of Ohio, this is unfortunately also the case.

See Related: Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

FAQs About Alcoholism

In the world of alcoholism, many who have once struggled with this disease may have unknowingly become a “dry drunk.” This is essentially someone who might no longer use alcohol but still behaves similarly to how they did when they were still deeply immersed in alcoholism. Much is left to do to change their negative thoughts and behaviors.

A dry drunk may have kicked the disease and even made strides to change their lifestyle, but unfortunately ended up gradually going back to the same destructive and unhealthy ways of acting and thinking. Not only is addiction about the actual use of alcohol or drugs, but also the learned behaviors tied to the disease.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to make sure you do not become a dry drunk at any point throughout your rehabilitation.

  1. Be dedicated to your recovery.
  2. Be conscious of negative thoughts.
  3. Be part of a recovery group. 
  4. Keep a journal.

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.