Alcohol addiction is the biggest drug addiction in our country. And although it is legal it still has its negative affects on those who abuse it. Alcohol addiction goes through several stages before the person becomes a full-blown alcoholic. Society’s acceptance of alcohol is part of the problem. Teenagers are made aware that drinking alcohol is acceptable, not just by society and friends, but also by their own parents. Many parents let their underage children drink and some even supply alcohol to their children. The constant daily stresses of life and situations that arise often lead people to seek relief in alcohol. Unlike the stigma of using illegal drugs, alcohol use is seen as normal and therefore alcohol addiction often goes unnoticed and even ignored
According to most sociologists, there are three distinctive stages that can lead to alcohol addiction.
*Social Drinking – During this stage alcohol is used to boost enjoyable social situations. For many people there is this ideal that without alcohol a party is not a party. Alcohols’ stimulant effects work to make socializing more amusing, pleasant, and relaxing. Also during social drinking, alcohol is part of the dinnertime meal. Social drinking includes drinking small amounts that don’t have any major side effects. Drinking alcohol is mostly for social enjoyment or to unwind from a stressful day. Some social activities and events such as graduation and parties often lead to social drinkers indulging in more alcohol, which causes harmful side effects like impairment and loss of control. Yet, during these activities heavier drinking is still acceptable. The social drinker conforms to society’s norms regarding drinking alcohol.
*Heavy Drinking – Sometimes the social drinker turns into the heavy drinker using alcohol to escape from stressful situations or unpleasant conditions. Many times the user becomes trapped in a downward cycle. They feel stressed, they drink, and the more they drink the better they feel or believe they can handle or deal with a situation. Unfortunately, they become dependent on alcohol, which breaks down their defense system and ability to handle any situation, so when faced with any problem they seek alcohol and the cycle continues. This type of drinker violates social norms regarding the use of alcohol, suffering negative feedback from family, friends, and others. They become defensive about their drinking and deny that alcohol is a major influence in their life. Alcohol becomes a way to escape from the realities of life. The heavy drinker drifts into becoming addicted to alcohol leading to the next stage.
*Alcohol addiction – The person is now dependent on alcohol and suffers from many negative consequences and side effects. The alcohol addiction completely takes over their life and they are unable to function normally in society. The alcohol addiction leads to despair and desperation because the drinker needs alcohol just to feel normal, which only makes their addiction worse. Even once a person finally overcomes their dependency on alcohol, they may always be prone to alcohol addiction leading to dependency on alcohol once again. A small amount of any alcohol years later could lead them back to their addiction.