The Stages and Cycle of Alcohol Addiction: Debunked

It is intriguing to note that alcohol use in men is twice as prevalent as alcohol use in women. Nevertheless, the effects of long-term alcohol usage remain the same. Further, there are a slew of physical as well as psychological factors that dominate the cycle of alcohol addiction. Physical cues include building a certain level of tolerance and showing withdrawal symptoms, mostly when the person stops drinking all of a sudden.

Psychological signals mostly deal with walking with thoughts and actions that are led toward alcohol consumption. A more comprehensive breakdown would reveal that there are mainly three stages of alcohol addiction.

Stage 1: Binging alcohol at a slow or rapid pace

The incipient stage of alcohol addiction works on a reward mechanism. The basal ganglia get activated upon the consumption of alcohol, and rewarding effects like euphoria, relief from anxiety, effortless social interaction, etc. are felt on a deeper level. The ganglia part of the brain is responsible for several aspects related to routine and habit formation. Thus, the compulsive use of substances will trigger this significant portion of the brain to shower rewards for devouring alcohol.

Stage 2: Withdrawal signs or negative impact

As soon as a person stops drinking, withdrawal symptoms start to creep in. These symptoms are in total contrast to the earlier story of alcohol rewards. Emotional withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, etc. Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include pain, disrupted sleep, diseases, and the like. Here, what is observed is the decreased activation of the reward system of the brain and an increased activation of the stress system and related anxiety caused by an extension of the amygdala.

Stage 3: Anticipation

This is the third most advanced stage of alcohol addiction, where an individual goes in search of alcohol to quench his or her craving. The person experiencing addiction in this phase of the cycle will have the prefrontal cortex helping him or her to formulate thoughts and form decisions. The person in the craving phase will look forward to consuming alcohol shortly.

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