What is alcohol addiction or alcoholism?

Alcohol is one of the most common addictions worldwide. A contributing factor is that alcohol is socially accepted. Who doesn’t enjoy a drink with their friends and family? Or an aperitif to relax after a hard day’s work?

The use of alcohol is so prevalent in all walks of life that it is ingrained in our everyday lives. What is often underestimated is that alcohol consumption can lead to physical and mental problems, sometimes even to suicidal behaviour.

I used to be a ‘normal’ social drinker, like a lot of other people. I had no particular problems with it.

What are the causes of alcohol addiction?

You don’t become addicted to alcohol overnight. Usually it creeps into your life unnoticed, and you gradually need more and more to achieve the same effect. Because it builds up bit by bit, it can take a long time before you realise you have a problem.

Other factors can also play a role in alcohol addiction:

  • family history
  • upbringing and environment
  • stress
  • mental disorders such as depression
  • uncertainty
  • social pressure

What are the symptoms of alcohol addiction?

After a while your body gets used to the alcohol and you have to drink more and more to achieve the same effect. This can have a lot of consequences. You neglect yourself, sleep badly and get into trouble with your family and friends, your memory fails you, and you deny that you have a problem.

A relatively new form of alcohol abuse is what is known as ‘binge drinking’. You drink large amounts  of alcohol (binge) over a short period of time to get drunk as quickly as possible. After that, you may not drink or hardly drink at all for some time. Because you drink so much so quickly, the risk of alcohol poisoning is very high as well as: organ damage, brain impairments, and anxiety and depression.

I was aware that what I was doing was wrong, and I was full of good intentions to stop drinking. However, I always found reasons and excuses to postpone those intentions and put them on hold for a while, lying to myself and others.

What are the consequences of alcohol addiction?

Alcohol misuse can have a variety of consequences on a mental, physical and social level. You can read about some common effects here.

Mental consequences

  • impaired signal transmission in the brain
  • increased dependence on alcohol
  • loss of inhibitions
  • problems concentrating
  • impaired memory function
  • denial of the problem 

Physical effects

  • greater alcohol tolerance, so you need more and more
  • withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, excessive sweating, tremors
  • in the long term, damage to organs such as the heart, liver, pancreas and brain, and an increased risk of cancer

Social impact

  • neglect of relationships and appearance
  • change in the nature of relationships with family, friends and colleagues

How can Affect2U help you with an alcohol addiction?

Often clients tell us that they have been labelled with a dual diagnosis. At intake and admission, we always do our own clinical screening. This is because it is difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of the addiction itself and other causes. Many symptoms specific to and resulting from addiction and/or trauma are ‘controlled’ with medication, but this isn’t always necessary, and the medication can be tapered off where appropriate.

The first and most important step is admitting you have a problem. The moment you cross that difficult threshold, a multidisciplinary and experienced team is ready to guide you.

Together we will find the most appropriate solution for you. You can be helped on an outpatient basis or opt to be admitted to our home environment.

Recover is an action verb. You have to pay constant attention to it and take action to work on it – together with others. Affect2U couldn’t give me any guarantees that I would “never use again”, but they did give me lots of tools to help make this happen.


Any questions?

Call the helpline    

+32 (0) 480 67 40 18

from 7am to 11pm,
seven days a week