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Alcohol Dependence to Alcohol Substance Abuse

A common story...

George was given a beer by his dad at a family picnic when he was nine years old. His dad thought it would be a good idea for his son to learn about alcohol in the safety of his home. This first beer led to other drinking at home - drinking his parents never discovered.

In high school, George began drinking more than a couple of beers - weekends of binge drinking became commonplace. Then college and even more binge drinking.

Finally, George was arrested for driving under the influence but continued drinking. He wrecked two cars and had trouble holding a job.

George had progressed from experimenting to dependence to abuse.

What is alcohol dependence?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol dependence “is a condition characterized by impaired control over drinking, compulsive drinking, preoccupation with drinking, tolerance to alcohol, and/or withdrawal symptoms.”

And alcohol abuse?

“Alcohol abuse is characterized by failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home, interpersonal social and legal problems, and/or drinking in hazardous situations."

What causes the dangerous transition from experimenting to dependence to abuse?

Remember the early binge drinking in George's youth?

New research shows that binge drinking may increase the risk of addiction...

Neuroscientist Amy Lasek, at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and her colleagues, report that "after binge drinking, neurons in brain circuits responsible for alcohol addiction become encased in a protein material, called a perineuronal net. The impenetrable coating cements neurons involved in alcohol addiction into a circuit that is extremely difficult to break."

Alcoholism is thought to be tied at least in part to an aberrant learning process. Binge drinking appears to create unique cellular patterns (specialized perineuronal nets) in the brain that lead to behavioral patterns that can be hard to break.

The solution?

Scientists may someday find a drug that can break up the sticky coating on these perineuronal nets. To help in the meantime, addiction specialists must use tools that help alcoholics unlearn dangerous patterns of behavior - thus helping them rewire their brains.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, or Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. And we come to you, regardless of where you live. Our unique in-home treatment model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. Please get in touch with one of our Recovery Specialists to learn more.

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