Wine, whether red, white, rose or champagne contains alcohol. Whatever way you look at, any alcoholic drink, including wine has its dangers. How to recognize addiction? When am I addicted? What is it exactly? How to avoid it? Find out all this and more in this article on what is an alcohol addiction.
The creeping toxic
In many countries around the world a majority of people drink alcohol on a regular basis. It may be part of the culture and/or our social life. It gives many people a comfortable feeling and provides fun and relaxation at parties, at the gym, or with colleagues after work, when you go out with friends, or when you have company at home.
Alcohol can be a tool for relaxing, make you forget your worries or fall asleep easily. For example, if you are tired, troubled or look up at something; if you are unsure, feel sad or lonely or if you suffer from anxiety, pain or sorrow.
Since alcohol has a pleasant feel, you may be tempted to drink more often or more. Some people get used to drink at fixed times, e.g. when returning home, when cooking or eating, while watching TV or reading the newspaper, or any time before bedtime. Thus it becomes a daily habit to drink unnoticed. You become attached to it and really want to do without. One to two drinks a day is usually harmless. But if you become moody when you are a few days without it, there is something wrong.
Alcohol addiction: how does that come about?
With an addiction to alcohol, mind and body become dependent on alcohol. Alcohol dependency is usually created by a combination of the person’s:
- Traumatic experiences
- Personal situation
- Social environment
- Physical problems
When are you addicted?
You do not just become addicted to alcohol. It is a gradual and creeping process that can take years. We can talk about addiction if:
- You need to drink more and more to achieve the desired effect;
- You get withdrawal symptoms if you do not drink. These may be physical symptoms, such as sweating or trembling. Or mental symptoms such as restlessness or panic if you do not drink;
- You drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms. You should drink to make you feel good;
- You have no control over your drinking at any moment any more.
Addiction and dependence on alcohol
If you regularly drink alcohol, your body starts to get used to. If you do not drink for a few days, it can be that your body starts protesting: you are going to feel unpleasant, restless or irritable. You may get headaches, insomnia, anxiety, sweating, trembling or palpitations. These are withdrawal symptoms. If you need ever more alcohol in order to feel good or to face a particular situation, you will be under threat of becoming dependent on alcohol. Drinking will be controlling your life. You will likely find it difficult to moderate or stop.
Do I drink too much?
To find out if you drink too much and too often, ask yourselves four questions:
- Have you ever had the feeling to have to cut down on alcohol?
- Do you ever get annoyed by comments from others on your drinking?
- Have you ever felt a little annoying or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever drunk early in the morning to the nerves to be the boss or a hangover to come off?
If you answered yes to two or more questions, you have a greater risk of alcohol dependence.
How can I avoid alcohol addiction?
A rule of thumb to avoid putting yourself in danger by drinking alcohol:
Do not drink more than one or two drinks per day and avoid drinking alcohol at least two days a week.
And another important one:
Even if only once a week, drinking fifteen or so glasses of alcohol definitely is unhealthy. Alcohol to be sure, has an effect on all organs, such as the stomach, the liver, and the brains. The more alcohol is absorbed in a short time in the body, the more damage this could mean to organs. If you drink a lot at one time, it is good not to drink for the next two whole days straight. The body can recover that way again.
Young people under 18 years of age and older (65+) can tolerate alcohol less well;
In combination with certain medications you better not drink alcohol. Always read the label;
Applicable for women: drink as less as possible if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant. I have published another blog on the topic of pregnant women and wine.
What is better? Moderation or stop drinking?
You choose for yourself whether to persist or want to stop drinking alcohol. However, for a good chance of success, it is important to make a clear choice.
As to moderating your drinking you make the choice to drink less alcohol as:
You or the people around you suffer from your alcohol intake and you drink more than is good for you (more than one or two drinks per day).
It is wise to stop drinking alcohol if you:
- Are pregnant (or would be) or breast-feeding;
- Use certain drugs (e.g. sedatives);
- Experience physical complaints using the alcohol;
- Drink at every opportunity;
- Drink to displace anxiety, depression or problems;
- Must always drink more to feel good or to face a particular situation;
- Are moody or restless if you have to do without alcohol for a while;
- The drinking gets you into problems with your partner, family, friends or colleagues;
- Are getting into financial difficulties through drinking;
- Come into contact with the police (positive breath tests, traffic or use of force).
Should I moderate now or a gradually decrease?
Make your choice to drink less at one time or opt for a gradual reduction. Determine the maximum number of units of alcohol you can drink per day and per week. With gradually decreasing you can fix in advance how many drinks per week you are going to drink less. It is recommended that you also reduce the number of days you can drink. Decide in advance which days you may or may not drink. To prevent addiction it is wise not to drink at least two days a week.
Stop: temporary or permanent?
If moderation proves too difficult, you may decide not to drink at all in a certain period, e.g. a month or half a year. This gives certainty: you do not have to wonder if you should or should not drink. This can also be a good reason to stop once and for all.
Drinking wine is a very nice and pleasant way of passing the time with family, friends or even by yourself. Drinking red or white wine can have a lot of positive heath effects, if consumed in moderation. However, alcohol is an important part of wine and this can work addictive, when a habit becomes more of a necessity and everybody should be aware of its dangers. If you think you are a problem drinker this article may help you, not only to find out, but also to do something about it. After all we would like to enjoy drinking wine in good health and for a lot of more years to come and drinking wine in moderation has many health benefits.
However, wine is one of life’s elixirs and if you love it, why not see to it that you get the best fit for your taste. This site helps you finding the world’s best Chardonnays. Click on the three images to the right (for mobile users just under this text) to have access to and to find the best for your region, either the USA, the UK or Australia.
Feel free to chime in with a comment or question and I will come back to you within 24 hours.