Alcoholism may cause a physical and psychological dependence.
Physical dependence: this form of dependence is due to two properties of alcohol.
- It is increasingly necessary to achieve the desired alcohol effect. This process is called tolerance.
- The body protests when no more alcohol is given. The protest is reflected in detoxification or withdrawal symptoms: feeling sick, trembling, feeling frightened.
The fact that alcohol can cause physical dependence means in practice that there is every chance the addict will continue to drink and also increasingly get used to combating the withdrawal symptoms.
This is the real addiction. The alcoholic feels very uneasy if he/she is not intoxicated. There is a very strong desire (craving) for alcohol.
Both the physical and psychological dependency is partly explained by processes occurring in the brain. Chemicals get released in the brain when alcohol is broken down because a busy spot in cell metabolism is normally occupied by other substances. After a long period of non-drinking, the natural process in brain cells recover.
We speak of chronic alcoholism when repeated attempts to drink less or stop alcohol consumption fails and the alcoholic always falls back into the old pattern of drinking.
The Houghton House Group drug rehabilitation treatment centre is located in Johannesburg (South Africa). The treatment programs that form the group provide specialist treatment in alcoholism problems and have been treating patients for over fifteen years.