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What Is Alcoholism & How Does It Happen?

While it gives us great pleasure at Hangover Hospital to help our hungover brothers and sisters relieve the terrible symptoms alcohol over-indulgence can bring, there is a persistent problem we are all grappling with as a society: alcoholism. About 1 in every 12 adults in the United States suffers from chronic alcohol abuse, which in turn affects their social, emotional, and physical well-being.

  • While there are many ways that alcoholism can negatively affect its abuser, in this article we will cover what alcoholism is and how it happens mainly in relation to a person’s physical well-being.

Definition of Alcoholism

What Is Alcoholism & How Does It Happen? - Hangover Hospital Key West | Hangover Hospital Key WestMost of us know that alcoholism is a dependence on alcohol, which is true, but it entails a lot more than just needing a drink every night. Alcoholism specifically refers to an inability to control drinking habits which in turn engenders problems in someone’s life. When drinking in excess leads to health defects, physical abuse, or jeopardization of personal relationships, it becomes alcoholism. The severity of alcoholism is categorized as mild, moderate, and severe on a spectrum, but mild and moderate alcoholism still pose risk to an individual and could potentially result in severe alcoholism, putting a drinker’s life and the lives of others around him/her in serious danger.

How Alcoholism Starts

What Is Alcoholism & How Does It Happen? - Hangover Hospital Key West | Hangover Hospital Key WestThe process of alcohol addiction is complicated and involves different, complex processes that take place in the brain. The best way to demonstrate how it might happen, however, is through example. If a person drinks for fun in social situations and overindulges a few times, likely nothing will happen. If a person goes to frequent parties, likely to socialize and enjoy their time, and alcohol indulgence happens habitually, over time the mind will receive a cue that happiness comes from alcohol, not necessarily to socialization. Over time, and this can take a long time, a person may use alcohol anytime they want to feel good, even without a party to enjoy it. This can be especially dangerous when it comes to other life situations where alcohol becomes a way to feel good in order to cope, and slowly a person feels a dependence on alcohol for any situation where they aren’t feeling good, eventually leading to alcoholism.

From this example, there are a few things we can infer and a few that we can’t. Let’s start with the things we can’t infer. First, partying in and of itself doesn’t lead to alcoholism. We aren’t saying that. The example we demonstrated also doesn’t always happen to everyone. Many people can go to parties, even overindulge frequently, and have complete control over their other drinking habits. The things we can infer, on the other hand, are that alcoholism is caused by the mind believing that alcohol is a source of comfort, which is why drinkers who use alcohol to relieve stress, cope with loss, or combat depression often fall victim to alcohol’s vices. The problem is that while alcohol may offer a small amount of relief in different situations, it depletes the brain’s serotonin (a chemical that helps our nerves function and helps us feel good) levels, meaning that we feel worse after we drink.

  • If overindulgence is prolonged, alcohol can actually manipulate and change the brain’s cell altogether where the body had a harder time producing this chemical, leading to depression and more dependence.

Hangovers and Alcoholism

What Is Alcoholism & How Does It Happen? - Hangover Hospital Key West | Hangover Hospital Key WestHangovers occur because a person consumed so much alcohol the body isn’t able to process it at a normal rate. The problem with alcoholism is that so much alcohol consumption causes chronic hangover symptoms. Severe alcoholism is usually treated with more alcohol to dull receptors, but it can be a vicious cycle. An alcoholic often becomes extremely dehydrated, and the hangover symptoms are the least of their problems, with brain defects, diabetes complications, heart problems, liver disease, and so much more possibly being impacted.

How Hangover Hospital Works

What Is Alcoholism & How Does It Happen? - Hangover Hospital Key West | Hangover Hospital Key WestOur Hangover Hospital works by coming directly to our Key West patients who had too much to drink the night before. We get rid of their hangovers in less than an hour and help them enjoy the rest of their vacation free from migraines or stomach aches. Unfortunately, however, we can’t cure alcoholism. If you or someone else you know/love is struggling with alcoholism, consider seeking medical help and counseling, because hangovers are the least of your concerns. Remember when you come to the party in Key West, drink responsibly and give us a call if you need hangover relief.