Can you be addicted to alcohol after one drink? No. Addiction doesn’t happen that fast. However, it’s definitely possible for one experience with an addictive substance to set you on the road to addiction if you’re already predisposed to it. How would you know for sure you’re predisposed?
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a complex brain disease characterized by a compulsion to use a substance even in the face of clear harm. It’s likely caused by a variety of factors, including genes, environment and past trauma. Studies indicate that genetics determine up to one-half of an individual’s overall tendency for addiction. If you have relatives with substance abuse issues, this statistically puts you at a higher risk. Does it definitely mean you’ll become an addict? No. This is partly because genes pass down randomly and can skip generations.
However, if both of your parents were addicted, this would increase your chances as well. Addiction in a biological sibling may also increase your odds of addiction, but again, not necessarily. You share only some of your genes with a biological brother or sister because each of you randomly received half of your genes from each parent. Genes are like that. Around and around and around they go. Where they stop, no one can know.
A Matter of Balance
Science has just begun to explore the mysteries of addiction. What is known is that the risk of addiction can be mitigated by a number of factors. For example, you may have a powerful genetic tendency, but if this is balanced by a positive home environment where you’re not exposed to addictive substances and behaviors growing up, this may be enough to prevent addiction for you. By the same token, you could be raised by an addict parent, but if you’re not genetically predisposed, you may never become addicted yourself.
Addiction and Teens
Of course, even someone heavily predisposed to addiction will never become an addict if they’re not exposed to the substance in the first place. This is the concern behind giving powerful drugs like opioids to teens for relatively minor procedures like wisdom teeth removal or for sports injuries. We do know that teens are far more likely than adults to become addicted. On the other hand, many teens experiment with drugs and alcohol and never go on to become addicted as adults. Still, statistically, this is risky business for teens.
That said, every addiction began with one drink or one dose. This is because of the natural tendency for people to seek out pleasurable activities. Humans are pretty hedonistic. Someone drinking for the first time may like the feeling so much that they want to repeat it again and again. After repeated exposures to high amounts of alcohol over time, the brain begins to become dependent on the substance. After awhile, the brain can’t function normally without it. It’s the same with opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, cocaine, amphetamines and so on. The person seeks the substance out and begins to feel like they cannot live without it. They will do anything to get it. They put it ahead of family, work, friends and other relationships. Nothing matters but the drug.
An addiction is born, and it all started with just one drink or one dose.
Why can some people drink socially while others cannot? Why can some people take opioids for a short time for pain and then stop and not even want to take more? Why do people choose certain substances to abuse? No one knows. Most addicts strongly prefer only one class of drug and don’t abuse anything else, even if it’s available. Garbageheads, a slang term for people who will abuse any substance they can get their hands on, do exist but are not the norm.
For addicts, the lure of their drug of choice is irrestistible. This is why most need help to stop. Advances in MAT or medication-assisted therapy have helped opioid and alcohol addicts to stay clean.
Society and Addiction
Society has a strange dichotomy when it comes to the use of certain substances. For example, tobacco is perfectly legal for adults and is without much serious social stigma. And yet, nicotine is one of the top five most addictive drugs known. In every definable way, tobacco users are addicts. They crave their substance and will go to great lengths to use it. But, society doesn’t treat them as addicts. With all the outrage over the so-called opioid epidemic, alcohol remains socially acceptable. The truth is, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death and kills far more people than opioids do.
Help is Available
If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug addiction of any kind, we can help. Hope is never lost. Let us find the perfect treatment facility for your needs. Just call us anytime at 772-266-5320 for some compassionate guidance for a brighter tomorrow.