The question: Why is alcohol addictive? To begin with, any substance or activity
that alters our state of mind has the possibility of being addictive and alcohol
is obviously one of these. But, why is alcohol addictive? Some would say that one
reason alcohol is so addictive is the fact that it is considered an “acceptable”
social activity, however even a social drinker frequently finds they have established
an alcohol addiction after frequent weekend drinking sessions. Not only is alcohol
addictive, but long-term, habitual usage is also associated with hypertension, stroke,
and sudden death.
An individual or group of people may try to reason or wonder why is alcohol addictive
or try to rationalize an addiction to alcohol if he or she is only drinking it to
advance their current circumstances. They really have no clue that the stages of
alcoholism begin with this very quandary. They soon find out that, in the first phase
of alcohol addiction, social drinking no longer becomes an activity but a means of
changing or altering an emotional state. They drink because of the “high” they get
from using alcohol, letting go of inhibitions, or as an escape from their reality.
For instance, early in the disease process a person will start to depend on the mood-altering
effects of alcohol. At the same time, while they are depending on the effects of
alcohol to sooth their ills, their bodies are becoming dependent on the alcohol to
function normally. Also, a slow and gradual increase in tolerance develops. This
is another observable characteristic of the first stage of alcohol addiction, meaning
that increased amounts of alcohol are needed for the individual to feel the same
The question "Is alcohol addictive" arises casually in a social setting with friends,
but when we talk about alcohol consumption today and what comes to mind is any alcohol-containing
beverage. However, it should be noted that the debate has never been about wine or
beer but alcohol. Alcoholic beverages have evolved scientifically over the years
that they have become so refined and as a result the percentage of alcohol has greatly
increased. So, it should be noted that the alcohol content in the average beer has
increased to as much as 12 percent in some brands.
“Is alcohol addictive and does it cause severe cognitive impairment when abused”?
Well, DUH! It doesn’t take a neuroscientist to notice how people act after downing
a few beers during a football game, having too much wine at dinner, or that “one
for the road” at the local bar. This is pretty much a rhetorical question. That said,
consuming vast quantities of alcohol can lead some people into the downward spiral
of addiction, not being able to stop on their own, and constantly looking for that
next drink. Other than these people suffering from an addictive personality, there
is a reason for this. The substance contained in alcohol which causes feelings of
euphoria, among other things, arrives at the control center of the brain in about
30 seconds (that’s pretty fast). Also, alcohol disrupts dopamine receptors in the
brain and is thought to stimulate the “reward” pathway. Alcohol also effects the
release of specific types of endorphins throughout the brain which are believed to
effect emotions and moods. The alcohol-dopamine connection is what is thought as
causing the addiction, and with this, the brain begins to have a dependence on alcohol
for the production of endorphins.
In essence, is alcohol addictive? Yes. But why is alcohol addictive? This is the
tricky part and as mentioned, alcohol is quickly assimilated in the brain and bloodstream.
It alters our conscious state and affects our reward pathway. Is alcohol addictive?
Yes, but people with addictive personalities can also become addicted to knitting.
It all has to do with what makes us feel good; what gives us a sense of accomplishment
or achievement. Activities such as skydiving, skiing, or even writing can be addicting
as well. However, as far as why is alcohol addictive, there are still obvious and
well documented symptoms and progression of alcoholism, and although many can enjoy
an occasional social drink, those prone to addiction should try to avoid these situations.