If you enjoy the party lifestyle, you might have wondered “How long does it take to get addicted to alcohol?” Drinking alcohol is an inseparable part of modern culture in many countries around the globe. People often drink to celebrate random things, socialize, or simply relax at home.
According to the survey conducted in 2019, around 85.6% of adults in the US have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives. (1)
If we have to tell what people’s perception about alcohol is, we’ll use that famous quote from Homer Simpson (a popular character from the American animated sitcom, The Simpsons) that says “alcohol is the cause and the solution of all the problems in life.”
Many People Believe Alcohol is Harmless Social Fun
Many believe that alcohol consumption does not harm them. In fact, it helps them to enjoy things. The truth is that drinking alcohol does not do any harm to you, so long as you know how to drink responsibly and maintain limits.
But have you ever wondered how long it takes to get addicted to alcohol? Or, when does your casual, social drinking can turn into a disastrous alcohol addiction?
Let’s take a look at a transition from easy-going, social drinking to full-fledged alcohol addiction. But first, the basics!
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
A number of symptoms and signs can exhibit alcohol addiction. You are more likely to be an alcohol addict if you crave to drink for relieving stress, need a relatively greater amount of alcohol to feel that buzz, or have no control over your drinking.
Many alcohol-addicted individuals drink alcohol before parties as they think that intoxication helps them with socializing in a better way. If a person is severely addicted to alcohol, the chances are, he or she will not socialize at all.
Alcohol addicts will always come up with some or more reasons to drink, no matter it is a day or night. They often experience irritation, anxiety, or stress if they are not getting the alcohol in considerable amounts.
Moreover, they may continue drinking even if there are problems in their family life, work-life, or relationships due to their alcoholism. Unfortunately, around 15 million people in the US suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD), and only 7% of them receive the treatment. (2)
Note that alcohol addiction does not happen overnight. It activates the reward system in the brain and provokes you to drink every now and then over time.
The Time It Takes To Develop A Full-Blown Alcoholism
Alcohol starts affecting our abilities to act, feel and think after at least ten seconds of drinking. By interfering with the neurotransmitters, it changes the way our brain works.
In layman’s terms, alcohol encourages our brain to release happy chemicals and develop the feeling of euphoria in the drinker. However, this sense of happiness is false. As the alcohol level in the body drops, the sense of happiness vanishes.
When you start feeling the need to get higher to feel happy, it’s a primary sign of addiction. And during such times, your dependency on alcohol grows each time you continue drinking.
The time to get fully addicted to alcohol can be different for all. Some can develop alcohol addiction quickly while others may take longer. There are several factors that can affect the pace of developing alcohol addiction.
Factors That Lead To Alcohol Addiction
The most vital factor that impacts alcohol addiction is the frequency of your drinking. If you drink 2-3 glasses of liquor in one sitting, a few times a week, it can be treated as normal drinking. If your alcohol consumption is around 5-10 times per sitting, five times a week, you are more likely to develop alcohol addiction.
Your genes can play a big role in the development of your alcohol addiction. If your father, grandfather, and ancestors were alcoholics, the chances of you getting the addiction are relatively more than others. This is a dangerous trigger point that you need to be aware of in your life.
Furthermore, some people also use alcohol to deal with the trauma that happened in the past. They treat alcohol as a coping mechanism as it helps them in numbing the pain related to trauma. You have to understand that this is just a temporary relief and using alcohol to relieve stress can lead to serious physical and mental health conditions.
Ways To Defeat Alcohol Addiction
It doesn’t matter how severe your alcohol addiction is, you can always defeat it and achieve a long-lasting sober living. All you have to understand is when to call an addiction helpline. If you notice the signs of alcohol addiction in yourself or someone you know, act quickly as you can get the right help from one of the resources such as individual and group counseling, intensive inpatient or outpatient programs, sober coaching, peer mentoring, and many more. (3, 4)
Remember — alcohol addiction can take a major toll on the well-being of your overall health and put your fitness at a risk. Therefore, make sure you reach out to professional help before it’s too late to regain your normal life.
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1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics.
2. Addiction Statistics – Facts on Drug and Alcohol Use. Addiction Center. (2021). https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/addiction-statistics/.
3. Sober Living Programs: The District Recovery Community: CA. The District Recovery Center. (2021). https://www.thedistrictrecovery.com/sober-living-programs-california/.
4. 24/7 Alcohol & Drug Addiction Helpline. Renaissance Recovery. (2021). https://www.renaissancerecovery.com/when-should-i-call-an-addiction-helpline/.