Alcohol addiction is a term used to describe a physical and emotional dependency on alcohol. When a person consumes alcohol, they are actually taking a sedative drug, which has the potential to create a physical dependence and cause various withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol also creates feelings of euphoria and relaxation while lowering inhibitions. These effects can cause a person to develop an emotional dependence on the drug. When a person has such a strong craving for alcohol that he is physically or emotionally unable to resist, his problem can generally be described as an alcohol addiction.
One of the earliest signs that a person may be developing a physical dependence on alcohol is an increased tolerance. A person may find that it takes more and more alcohol to get the desired effect. If she doesn't consume enough alcohol, she may eventually have withdrawal symptoms such as trembling, sweats, and anxiety.
Emotional alcohol addiction usually goes hand-in-hand with a physical dependency. It may cause a person to become depressed when she doesn't have alcohol. An individual might find she can't face daily tasks until she's had a few drinks. Addicts often can't help but drink massive amounts of alcohol, even when they only planned to have a small quantity. An extreme emotional dependency can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, because people may not actually want to quit, even if they see that alcoholism is destroying their lives.
People who abuse alcohol may do so as a way to avoid their life problems. As a result, those difficulties may fester, leading to broken relationships or destroyed careers. One sign that a person may have an alcohol addiction is that his alcohol consumption is starting to interfere with day-to-day activities.
Generally speaking, the first thing a person needs when dealing with alcoholism is a real desire to quit. This may require some major life event that helps an individual realize the seriousness of her problem. Once the person is ready to quit, people will often remove all the alcohol from the individual's home as a way to limit temptation. Sometimes peer pressure from someone with a vested interest can be a helpful tool in keeping a person from relapsing, so addicts might announce their decision to family and friends. For some individuals, it may be helpful to spend time in a rehab facility in order to overcome withdrawal symptoms.
In certain cases, the emotional aspects of alcohol addiction may also require professional help. Certain therapists and psychiatrists specialize in helping people with addictions, and alcoholics can often benefit from this kind of counseling. There are also 12-step programs where people get sponsors to help them face their difficult days, and many experts think these approaches can be very beneficial.