How we become addicted

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Only 9 percent. alcoholics are people who correspond to our stereotypical association with the proverbial bum under a beer booth. Twice as many (20%) people addicted to alcohol are highly functioning people who fulfill their social roles flawlessly.

The addiction trap

A highly functioning alcoholic in the healthcare system appears on average 10 years later than the standard alcoholic from under the proverbial beer booth. This is because there are no acute health consequences for quite a long time, but the risk associated with heart disease or cancer is much greater for her than for a nondrinker, and it must end badly over the years.

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Most often, this type of addiction is found among people working in occupations exposed to the risk of burnout, i.e. among medical professionals, managers, officers of all services, journalists.

Alcohol is one of the most insidious substances conducive to the feeling of pleasure known in human history. Let’s start with the fact that the taste buds register alcohol rather as an unpleasant or even painful substance – it is enough to remember the first contact with high-percentage alcohol. With time, however, we realize that alcohol can also give a pleasant impression, and we begin to use it to reduce any deficits in experiencing pleasure when we have mood swings or experience anxiety.

Pandemic threats

The very fact of declaring a pandemic was associated with a great deal of uncertainty and fear. Now this is joined by other reports, for example about mutations of the virus, the increasing effects of the protracted state of isolation, as well as the economic consequences. Under these conditions, problems such as low self-esteem, uncertainty about the future, and fear of meeting financial obligations are exacerbated.

Experts warn that the level of anxiety may be borderline also for healthy people who have not been drinking so far, because many of us have low self-esteem, high uncertainty, anxiety, mood swings, specific personality traits, immature. These are people who are now at increased risk of addiction.

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More and more often it is said that this problem especially affects women. Many of them tolerate the pandemic much worse than men, but they do not want to admit it, even to themselves.

Warning signals

Experts emphasize that if the first thought in reaction to an unpleasant event is the desire to drink alcohol, a red lamp should light up.

The first irreversible change in the brain is the creation of a specific reward pathway – whatever we use: whether it is a substance or a behavior, by repeating it to relax or improve mood, we create a path in the brain that changes our perception of using the substance and continues to deepen the state. We need more and more. This is why when you quit drinking, you must remain abstinent throughout your life, because returning to this substance will restart the dormant reward pathway and everything will start all over again.

Postponing a solution to a problem and thinking, “I’ll drink, I’ll go through this easier” means that even if we don’t drink often, there is a risk that our reward center is already used to alcohol to break the anxiety or frustration loop that is felt. in us. That should be a warning

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About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on Daily Mid Time Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: