Alcohol consumption forms a significant part and parcel of American life. Americans drink to celebrate the birth of a new life and the beginning of a new relationship when they marry. Drinks are customary as well when someone is bid adieu from the workplace they have been long associated with. While drinking is an accepted social norm, in some people, the pattern of consumption becomes dangerously toxic. Some people drink because of an inner compulsion, or an obsessive behavior from which it is hard to disengage. Unfortunately, the longer and more frequently one gives in to his compulsion to drink, the more potent the addiction becomes. Soon, one requires more drinks to satiate the reward centers of the brain. This behavior over a period of time wreaks havoc on brain’s neuronal circuits and reinforces dependence and addiction.
As stated by clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Mantell, all types of bingeing behavior are related to negative emotions. Whether it is shopaholism or overindulgence in foods, at the core of these behaviors is a feeling of inadequacy and powerlessness to control a compulsive habit. As most people are afraid to disclose their drinking compulsion, they keep it cloaked in secrecy, which can be frustrating at times.
A number of factors play a role in creating alcohol dependence. The more they drink, greater the need to consume more. Some of the reasons are given below:
Genetics: Genetics play an important role in determining who would be more likely to take up drinking. People with a family history are more likely to indulge in compulsive drinking than those who get influenced at a later stage.
Peer influence: Schools and colleges are a time when young children are on the threshold of carving a new identity, aiming to perform better than others and experiencing a multitude of social and emotional changes. Their curiosity and peer pressure may lead to uncontrollable drinking levels.
Feeling out of place: A person’s state of mind impacts his or her behavior. For example, a person who feels out of place in a conversation or group could take a drink to feel more confident or to fit in. Slowly, every time they feel out of place, they try to sneak in a drink. Compulsive drinking, over a long period of time, does not augur well for the overall health and heightens the risk of liver damage, stroke, pancreatitis, kidney stones, depression and anxiety.
According to a previous study, 5 percent of the total neurons in the amygdala, also referred to as the central nucleus, becomes activated when one consumes alcohol frequently. Consequently, the risk of addiction also increases. The study that used a rat model revealed that when these neurons were silenced, the animals were not inclined to drink anymore. Similar results were obtained in the subsequent trials as well, indicating that the rats were no longer alcohol dependent. The rats also did not experience alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms such as shaking. Lead researcher and assistant professor at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Olivier George, said, “We can completely reverse alcohol dependence by targeting a network of neurons.”
While the current study was performed on mice, researchers are excited at the prospect of replicating the same on humans to assuage if alcohol-activated neuronal circuits could be deactivated in a similar manner. They seek to have better knowledge of this part of the brain in order to find a more effective means of treating an addiction.
Alcohol addiction has become one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the U.S. Even a single night of chronic heavy drinking can lead to risky behaviors like road accidents, unprotected sex, assaults and other health hazards. It’s difficult to predict when does occasional drinking turn into a disorder and interferes with daily activities. Abstinence will ensure a healthy and happy life.
The Arizona Alcohol Addiction Helpline offers help to people facing alcohol-related problems. Join us for an online chat now to get details about evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment centers in Arizona or call our 24/7 helpline 866-671-1510 for assistance in finding the best alcohol addiction treatment clinic in Arizona.
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