Alcohol Addiction Problems

Alcohol addiction is a medicalised term used to describe a problematic relationship with alcohol in which the drinker is positioned as being incapable of cessation due to the chemical nature of the ‘addictive’ substance, in this case alcohol.

When addiction is defined in this way it argues that the ‘addict’ has ZERO choice in regard to stopping because the chemical structure of the ‘addictive substance’ takes precedence over their ‘will’.

This question of whether or not a person is incapable of exercising choice over what they put into their mouths is the subject of much debate and for many working in the field of psychology represents another example of the medicalisation of human behaviours that may be more harmful than helpful.

It also raises some questions about the way in which addiction has been ‘modelled’, for example, if alcohol contains these so-called ‘chemical hooks’ that are supposed to negate choice, then why doesn’t everybody who drinks alcohol end up being an alcoholic?

Alcohol Related Problems

People do, of course, develop drinking problems and 

Using Alcohol to Cope

Drinking alcohol in itself is NOT particularly harmful as long as it is consumed in moderation and NOT as a way of coping with problems.

Unfortunately the use of alcohol as a method of relieving stress after a long day at work seems to have become normalised as an acceptable, if not ‘good’, way of dealing with difficult or heavy workloads.

In this sense, alcohol is being used as a coping strategy in preference to other more adaptive approaches and this is where alcohol abuse problems have the potential to occur.

Given the culturally wide acceptance of drinking alcohol it is often very difficult to distinguish between ‘social drinking’ and ‘problem drinking’ and whilst some people can consume large amounts of drink and seem relatively unaffected (both physically and socially), for some people it can cause significant problems.

Common Signs of an Alcohol Abuse Problem

  • Repeatedly neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of your drinking, for example, performing poorly at work, neglecting your kids, or ignoring your commitments because you’re hung over.
  • Using alcohol in situations where it’s physically dangerous, such as drinking and driving, operating machinery while intoxicated, or mixing alcohol with prescription medication.
  • Experiencing repeated legal problems on account of your drinking, for example, getting arrested for driving under the influence or for being drunk and disorderly.
  • Continuing to drink even though your alcohol abuse is causing problems in your relationships.
  • Self-deception and trying to kid yourself that your drinking is NOT a problem.

Possible Causes of Alcohol Abuse

There may be any number of causes for your alcohol abuse issues, although having a parent who is or was a drinker can significantly increase the likelihood that you will develop a problem.

People with different emotional problems will often turn to drink as a way of ‘coping’ with those difficult feelings and this is often referred to as ‘self-medicating’ – however, alcohol is a poor coping method as it almost always becomes a bigger problem that the problem it is being used to ‘cope with’!

It is also common to turn to alcohol when we have had some kind of trauma that has not been resolved, either recently or somewhere in the past.

There is also a problem of ‘cultural alcohol abuse’ – many people who work in very high pressure environments such as healthcare, teaching or policing will frequently find that colleagues often ‘hit the pub’ after a particularly stressful day.

In this way, drinking can often appear to be a socially acceptable way of ‘de-stressing’ and for many people it never turns into a problem, but for some, it can be the ‘slippery slope’ to ruin.

Beating Alcohol Addiction with Psychosocial Counselling