How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted to Alcohol?

Millions of people struggle with alcohol dependence every single day. For many, the problem is hereditary as it’s more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder if you have a close family member who is an alcoholic. However, knowing that you have a problem and acknowledging that you need help is one of the best steps toward getting the help that you need.

While you will want to do everything you can to find treatment, it’s important to know why you have a problem. Understanding why you have alcohol dependence can make a lot of difference when it comes to your treatment and your ability to regain your sobriety.

What is Alcohol Addiction?

Unlike illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines, for example, alcohol is still highly addictive. Although many people are able to drink alcohol responsibly and not develop a dependence on it, others struggle with addiction and alcohol use disorder. Alcohol addiction can manifest in a variety of symptoms. When a person feels that the only way they can relax or ease their everyday stress is through drinking alcoholic beverages, it signifies that they have a serious problem.

Even if the drinks being consumed are only beer, alcohol is highly addictive if it’s consumed in excess or if a person who has a higher risk of becoming dependent drinks it. Some people simply enjoy the buzz that they get from drinking. Others feel like they have to drink to loosen up in social situations like parties. However, these practices can lead to an alcohol addiction if it’s a regular habit. People who go out of their way to find reasons to consume alcohol or who find themselves experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when they aren’t drinking are examples of those who have an alcohol addiction. Alcohol use disorder is a serious problem that develops first in the brain.

Who is at Risk of Developing Alcoholism?

There are certain factors that can determine whether a person is at risk for developing alcohol dependence. As previously stated, genetics plays a huge role. However, other factors that can potentially lead to a higher risk of alcoholism include social, environmental and psychological conditions. For example, if a person has a circle of friends or peers who regularly consume alcohol, they might be more inclined to drink themselves. There may be a peer pressure situation such as a college student who is trying to get into a sorority or fraternity where it’s largely encouraged or even pressure to drink.

Obviously, individuals who have a close familial relationship such as a parent or sibling who is an alcoholic can develop their own addiction. Of course, not everyone who has a close family member who is an alcoholic becomes one or even drinks any alcoholic, in general, but this raises the risks. Situations such as abuse can also lead to an alcohol dependency. Individuals who suffer from mental health disorders are also more prone to developing alcohol use disorder as a way to mask their mental symptoms.

Overall, the following can lead to a greater risk of developing alcoholism:

  • Family history and genetics
  • Peer pressure
  • Environment
  • Mental health problems
  • Stress
  • Serious trauma
  • Drinking at an early age

How Long Does it Take to Develop Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence takes a long time to develop, but some people are more prone than others to become addicted faster. When alcohol enters the body, the bloodstream and the brain, it can affect the way a person feels, thinks, acts and reacts. This is due to the way alcohol affects the chemicals in the brain. When a person consumes alcohol, it triggers certain neurotransmitters and makes them feel a sense of happiness or even euphoria.

As a result, they like that feeling and are more inclined to continue drinking. However, that euphoria that’s felt is usually a false happiness as people can experience it even if they’re experiencing a slew of other emotions. When they stop drinking, they go right back to feeling whatever they felt before. This is what often leads to alcohol dependence. The person wants and even craves more and more due to the feeling they get when they drink. This can quickly lead to alcohol dependence.

However, depending on certain factors, it could take months or even years for that dependence to develop. There’s no specific amount of time it can occur. Ready to get started on your journey to sobriety? Call us for help today at 772-266-5320.

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