How Long it Takes to Get Addicted to Alcohol
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Alcohol addiction or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) has destroyed many families and sometimes led to the loss of dream jobs. Each time you see yourself headed in the direction of alcohol dependency, take the right steps to get your life in order.

People who have developed an addiction to alcohol often struggle to think straight. However, in their sane state of mind, they wonder, How do I break the cycle of alcohol addiction? What will be the alcohol withdrawal symptoms when I stop drinking? What’s the route to medical-assisted treatment and recovery?

Well, if you are trying to learn the neuroscience of alcohol addiction and recovery, we have a detailed post for you. Today, we’ll delve deep into this topic, highlighting how long it takes to get addicted to alcohol, various signs and symptoms of AUD, and what you can do to detox and recover. Let’s dive in.

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Alcohol

addicted to alcohol

Alcohol addiction has many negative effects on an individual and family at large. That is why it is always better to seek help the moment you realize you have an alcohol dependence. We will guide you further in understanding what causes alcohol addiction, the warning signs of alcoholism, and the detox options you can use to eliminate alcohol dependency.

What Causes Alcohol Addiction

Ending up with alcohol addiction can be due to many factors. They mostly include environmental, genetic, social, and psychological factors.

If there is a family history of alcohol addiction, then there is a higher risk of developing the same habit. This is also mostly due to early exposure to alcohol at a young age. If the parent is always drinking, the child might think it is a good thing for them to try. That is how a child might end up growing up with an alcohol addiction. 

The social environment, including peer pressure, can also be a reason for alcohol addiction. Some drink as a way of social acceptance among their peers. We cannot forget to mention the stressful life events such as trauma and stress that can drive someone to drink more often to curb their feelings.

As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Mental health disorders have also been known to increase the likelihood of being an alcoholic. Conditions such as depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and others are mostly associated with high rates of alcohol addiction.

Someone might ask, why is alcohol addictive? The dopamine release people get from consuming alcohol is probably the main reason you would start drinking. The sense of euphoria and pleasure derived from the dopamine release makes someone consider drinking more often, potentially leading to an addiction. 

How to Know If Someone is An Alcoholic?

how long does it take to become addicted to alcohol

Each time when you ask yourself the question, how long does it take to get addicted to alcohol? The chances are you might be already addicted; you just do not know it yet. However, there are a few alcoholism signs that you should watch out for to determine if you are addicted or not. 

The physical signs and symptoms are easily noticeable to other people. This is because of how the body responds to chronic alcohol consumption. Here are some of the physical alcoholism symptoms. 

  • Alcohol tolerance as now you need to drink more to get the same effects.
  • Some might experience symptoms such as shaking, nausea, sweating, and anxiety when they do not drink.
  • Health problems can also start to creep on you. This includes frequent illnesses. Sometimes, there can be noticeable weight loss or gain.
  • A person may also neglect their hygiene, including grooming and personal care. 

It is also important to look at the behavioral signs and symptoms when asking about who would most likely develop an alcohol addiction in adulthood. Such signs include:

  • Drinking at inappropriate times and places, such as daytime while you are supposed to be at work.
  • Losing control of how much you can drink in a day. Some even drink while driving just to keep the party going.
  • Drinking in secret or lying about drinking when clearly you smell of alcohol.
  • You start facing legal problems associated with drinking, such as DUI arrests.

The psychological signs and symptoms can help in how to identify an alcoholic. These symptoms might include:

  • Mood swings, irritability, and agitation. Some people might also show signs of increased anxiety and depression.
  • When you strongly crave drinking all the time, it seems to be the only thought on your mind.
  • Sometimes, you may experience blackouts or memory lapses even while drinking. It is possible to have difficulty concentrating or focusing.
  • It is not uncommon for an alcoholic to deny that they are suffering from alcoholism. This refusal impacts the efforts people around you might try to make to save you from the problem.
  • Other signs may occur depending on the severity of the disorder. To avoid all these signs, get help as soon as possible. 

Timeline of Alcohol Addiction

The alcohol addiction timeline is likely to vary from one person to another, but what is vital to know is that this is something that starts from initial use to dependence. Factors such as genetic predisposition, personal circumstances, and environmental influences can affect the timeline of alcohol addiction. 

This is what a typical alcohol addiction timeline would look like: 

  1. Initial use and experimentation often happen during adolescence or early adulthood. The experimentation is mostly motivated by curiosity, a desire to fit in with peers, or social pressure.
  2. The next stage is regular use, where you consume alcohol more often, mostly in social settings. Most people would do it over the weekends or in gatherings.
  3. The risky use stage involves individuals drinking in a manner that can be a risk to their safety and health. An example is binge drinking, and you may notice that your daily responsibilities are affected.
  4. The dependence stage is when someone develops a physiological and psychological reliance on alcohol. You even start experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, and anxiety if you do not drink.
  5. Addiction now kicks in, meaning alcohol consumption is now the central focus in your life. You have lost control over how much you drink, and there have been several unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop drinking. 

With that in mind, someone might ask how long does it take to get over alcohol addiction. This depends on many factors, starting with your commitment to a rehab program to help deal with the addiction. Also, once you are done with the treatment plan, ensure you have measures to keep you from relapsing. 

Dealing with Alcoholism – Addiction Treatment Options

addicted to alcohol

Alcohol abuse prevention and the whole process of recovering from alcohol addiction can be tougher than most people expect. However, you should always be committed to the process of getting better. You are likely to come across multiple options for alcoholism treatment; just make sure you understand what each plan involves and get the right one for you. 

The most popular options include alcohol detox, inpatient, outpatient, and many others, depending on the rehab center. 

Alcohol Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms and Expected Timeline

Alcoholism detox is when the body clears any alcohol from the body from the last time you had a drink. This can take around 3 to 7 days depending on how long you have been addicted to alcohol. However, this process is often affected by alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Some notable alcohol detox symptoms include tremors, anxiety, headaches, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and more. 

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Since multiple methods exist for dealing with alcohol addiction, sometimes you would be unsure which to choose. However, leave that to professionals at the rehab center to help you decide. 

We recommend that you choose alcohol rehab as the preferred method because of the many benefits that come with it. The alcohol rehab benefits include having a safe and structured environment aimed at healing you, comprehensive care, a variety of alcohol addiction treatment plans and therapies available, and there is also peer support. 

Most Common Questions About Alcohol Abuse and Treatment Programs

How does alcohol affects the brain?

Chronic alcohol use affects an individual’s neurotransmitter system. This includes dopamine, glutamate, and GABA release. Each time you take alcohol, there is an increase in dopamine release, which is associated with feeling pleasure and reward. As such, alcoholism makes the brain depend on alcohol intake to release dopamine rather than the natural way. 

The same goes for GABA and glutamate. This impact on the brain chemistry can lead to cognitive impairments, memory issues, and emotional regulation. 

How does addiction affect the body?

Excessive alcohol consumption has extensive physical effects on the body and can lead to serious health problems. 

That is why people with physical dependence on alcohol end up with all types of symptoms, including hypertension, cardiomyopathy, gastrointestinal concerts, and more. Still, alcohol can affect your eating habits, with some preferring drinking to eating a healthy diet. That is how you end up with nutritional deficiencies. 

What are the first signs of kidney damage from alcohol?

Since heavy drinking leads to kidney damage, it is worth noting the first signs of this condition. Expect swellings, especially in the legs, feet, and ankles, as the kidneys cannot remove excess fluid and sodium. Also, there will be changes in urination, persistent fatigue, and lower back pains or sides where the kidneys are located. 

What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol?

The liver is also affected by alcoholism, and the common sign of liver damage is jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and eyes due to bilirubin buildup. You may also experience excessive fatigue, itchy skin, nausea, and vomiting as part of the signs. 

What are the top 5 symptoms of alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is serious, and you should always seek immediate medical attention. The top signs you should know about alcohol poisoning include severe disorientation, frequent vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, and hypothermia. 

Contact Us Today to Learn About Still Water Wellness Group Alcohol Rehab Program!

Still Water Wellness Group is a top-rated Orange County alcohol & drug rehab center that can help you stop drinking and live a sober, rewarding life. Multiple treatment plans are available, including inpatient treatment, outpatient care treatment, and many others, to ensure there is something for everyone.

Remember, it’s never too late to seek treatment. Contact us today to quit drinking and get a tailored recovery plan for sobriety.

About Clint Kreider

Clint earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology in 2012. With 5 years in drug and alcohol treatment and 8 years in private practice, he specializes in helping clients uncover obstacles to living their envisioned life. Leveraging his experience, Clint supports clients in finding the motivation to make meaningful life changes. Follow him on: Linkedin Get support : Clint Website