Alcoholism is progressing as a disease and personality is degrading as a consequence . This means that the first stage will be followed by the second, and the second by the third. The evidence of alcohol addiction is the occurrence of hangover withdrawal syndrome.
However, identifying withdrawal symptoms and distinguishing them from simple hangovers is a problem for most people.
Of course, a healthy person after alcohol abuse also feels bad. The consequences of alcohol intoxication are expressed in lethargy, fatigue, dry mouth, headache.
With withdrawal symptoms, an increase in blood pressure, increased heart rate, intense anxiety, explainable or inexplicable fear, sleep disturbances and signs of intoxication are common. In other words, imagine that you are sick with a severe form of flu, plus severe depression associated with the loss of a loved one, plus fear for your own life.
The only desire of a person in a state of withdrawal is to take alcohol to relieve anxiety and depression. A healthy person, on the contrary, will not want to hear about alcohol for some time after abuse.
What is abstinence?
How does alcohol affect the human brain?
The nervous system of any person contains a mechanism of positive reinforcement. When you overcome obstacles, achieve a goal, achieve success, “a little happiness” is thrown into the blood in the form of neurotransmitter hormones. Hormones are captured by receptors, and “happiness” from the blood passes into consciousness.
Alcohol, like other psychoactive substances (drugs, coffee, cigarettes), stimulates the system of positive reinforcement and makes the neurotransmitters of happiness circulate just like that, without reinforcing or denying anything. The process is accompanied by pleasant emotional experiences.
The mechanism of positive reinforcement includes several chemical cycles, but the main, pivotal system is the exchange of the hormone dopamine. So, taking alcohol leads to an intense release of dopamine and positive emotions.
Too frequent alcohol intake leads to dopamine deficiency – it is used more than it is produced. As a result, sobriety is accompanied by a decline in mood, a feeling of lethargy, weakness, and experience of boredom, discomfort, and depressive symptoms.
A new intake of alcohol normalizes the condition, but for an increasingly shorter time, which leads to the desire to re-use alcohol. This vicious circle underlies the formation of mental dependence on alcohol. Although it is accompanied by many other disorders of neurochemical processes, brain functions, and behavior.
With prolonged use of alcohol (as well as drugs), chronic dopamine deficiency develops. To escape, the brain enhances dopamine production and inhibits stripping mechanisms. Now, with alcohol, the accelerated release of dopamine is accompanied by its accelerated production. An accelerated circulation of dopamine is formed as if adapted to constant drunkenness.
When trying to sober up, the patient’s dopamine release is blocked, but its accelerated synthesis continues. As a result, excess dopamine accumulates in fluids and tissues (mainly in the brain), which determines the withdrawal symptoms: high anxiety, tension, agitation, rise in blood pressure, acceleration of the pulse, sleep disturbance, development of psychotic conditions.
Removing withdrawal symptoms is easiest with a new portion of ethanol. This pattern is the formation of physical dependence on alcohol.
It is worth noting that the level of dopamine in the blood is proportional to the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Exceeding the baseline by 2 times corresponds to threshold negative experiences; when exceeded by 3 times, an acute psychotic state develops – alcohol delirium (including delirium tremens).
From the first use of alcohol to the third stage of alcoholism it takes only 8-10 years. As you can see, you do not need much time to ruin your life.