Often times, critics of alcoholism and substance abuse use the phrase “alcoholism is not a disease” or “alcoholism is a behavior not a disease.” While these assertions can be frustrating to those who have suffered, there is some wonderful recommended reading on the topic of the empirical evidence and chemistry behind alcoholism. It has been proven and observed in scientific studies that alcohol effects the neurochemistry of the brain, and can cause both long term and short term detrimental effects to the user. The science is piling up on the side that shows just how profound alcohol abuse’s impact can be on someone who is drinking on a regular basis, particularly in regards to brain health.
Another interesting area of observation in regards to alcohol’s chemical effects on the brain, is that the most common physiological manifestations of alcohol abuse are two responses; withdrawal and tolerance. Many people who are abusing alcohol develop a tolerance and can drink much more than the average person. Also, when the abruptly stop drinking, the effects of withdrawal can take place. Often times people in the withdrawal state have an elevated heart beat, their hands begin to shake, and in some cases they can be extremely severe, even leading to cardiac arrest or death.
While neurochemistry has an effect on the active drinker/alcoholic, it also plays an important role in treatment and recovery. As someone actively engages in treatment, many of the physiological attributes of alcohol abuse go away, and the more time that is spend sober, it gives the brain and the body a chance to recover. For those who are interested in learning more about the neuroscience of alcohol addiction, there is a great article linked below. Thanks for reading and check it out to learn more!
The Chemistry Behind Alcohol Addiction: http://www.egmedicine.com/the-chemistry-behind-alcohol-addiction/
Neuroscience of Alcoholism: Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3747955/