What Is Alcohol Dependence? 5 Things to Know

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Alcohol use has spiked among Americans since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Everyone, especially people who experienced a disruption of their work life during quarantine, is drinking more to handle stress.

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with having a drink to unwind, but this behavior can sometimes turn into alcohol addiction.

Have you found yourself wondering: what is alcohol dependence? Do I have a drinking problem? Is my alcohol use normal?

If you have any of those questions, keep reading. We’ll tell you all about alcohol dependence, including 5 key signs to look out for.

What Is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence is a mental health problem that occurs when you become too reliant on alcohol. When you need alcohol to function in your daily life, you are most likely dealing with alcohol dependence.

Alcohol dependence may come from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. If someone in your close family is an alcoholic, you may be at a higher risk of alcohol dependence.

However, the main factors that cause someone to become dependent on alcohol are frequent use and stress.

How Bedwetting When Drunk Is a Real Thing? Bedwetting when drunk is indeed a real phenomenon and can be explained by several factors related to alcohol consumption and its effects on the body:

  1. Increased Urine Production: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production by inhibiting the release of a hormone called vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone). This results in the need to urinate more frequently when drinking alcohol.
  2. Impaired Judgment and Inhibition: When people consume alcohol, their judgment and inhibitions are often lowered, which can lead to a lack of awareness or care about their need to urinate. They may delay or ignore the urge to go to the bathroom, which can result in bedwetting.

If you start drinking more often than usual and are dealing with a stressor (such as a global pandemic), you are at a risk for developing alcohol dependence.

There are a few different ways to deal with alcohol dependence. You can treat your alcohol dependence by attending a 12 step program, entering an inpatient rehabilitation center, or hiring an in home detox nurse.

There are rehab centers offering a wide variety of services for persons with drinking problems. For example, gender-separated facilities at the Ledgehill Treatment Center for women and men offer many evidence-based treatment plans such as detox and withdrawal programs to help with alcohol and drug addiction.

Now, let’s break down some of the most common signs of alcohol dependence.

1. Heightened Tolerance 

One of the more subtle signs of alcohol dependence is heightened tolerance. If you go out drinking with your friends and find yourself needing to drink much more than them to feel drunk, you have a heightened tolerance.

Alcohol is a substance that your body has to get used to. People who rarely drink are most likely to have a very low tolerance. People who drink often are most likely to have a high tolerance.

That said, tolerance affects different people in different ways. Your metabolism, overall health, age, and any medications that you take can impact your tolerance.

If you have always had a high tolerance to alcohol, then you shouldn’t be alarmed just because you have one now. However, if your tolerance seems gradually to get higher, you may be developing alcohol dependence.

2. Withdrawal 

Withdrawal is a telltale sign of alcoholism. If you notice yourself feeling withdrawal symptoms after you go without alcohol for a little while, you are almost certainly experiencing alcohol dependence.

Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, headaches, shakiness, nausea, depression, itchiness, and more.

In more severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures and even death.

Withdrawal is one of the most telltale signs of physical addiction. Physical addiction is the process by which your brain gets rewired by alcohol.

When you become addicted to alcohol, the pleasure centers in your brain are rewired so that they are more receptive to alcohol and less receptive to other pleasurable things.

While some other signs of alcohol dependence are mental and emotional, withdrawal is the number one sign that your body is addicted.

3. Depression

Alcohol is a nervous system depressant. That means that when you drink alcohol, your heart rate slows down, your breathing becomes shallower, your body temperature drops, and your brain is less active.

Frequent use of any nervous system depressant over time can cause you to become depressed.

When you’re constantly putting a damper on your brain activity, you are more likely to feel sad and hopeless.

The social and financial effects of alcohol addiction can also contribute to depression. If your family and friends grow distant from you because of your addiction you are likely to feel down; the same thing goes for finding yourself in dire straights because of your drinking-related choices.

4. Irresponsible Drinking

If you’re wondering how to drink less, one good answer is always: drink socially. Do not drink alone if you’re worried about developing an alcohol dependence.

Putting these barriers in place for yourself is a great way to curb your drinking if you are worried that it is becoming excessive.

One of the biggest signs of alcohol dependence is an inability to observe these barriers; drinking at inappropriate times, drinking more than you can afford to, and drinking way more than everyone else that you are with.

If you cannot stop yourself from making these decisions, that is a sure sign that you have an alcohol dependence problem.

5. Drinking in Secret 

Another one of those great tips for drinking alcohol: if you feel ashamed about it, you probably have a good reason. If you feel the need to hide your drinking, it is almost surely because you are developing alcoholism.

If you find yourself feeling ashamed of your behavior or your drinking habits, you should confide in someone and start making a plan for your treatment.

Drinking in secret makes the consequences of alcohol dependence even more dire; no one can help you if they don’t know what is wrong.

There Is Always an Escape From Alcoholism 

Now you know the answer to the question: what is alcohol dependence? The next step is to ask yourself if alcohol dependence is something you’re dealing with.

If you are struggling with to lessen your alcohol use, you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources out there designed to help you beat your addiction.

For more health resources, check out the rest of our blog!


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