why people become dependent on alcohol?
Alcohol dependence can run in families. It's partly down to your genes, but is also influenced by your family's attitudes to alcohol and the environment you grow up in.
"We know from studies of twins raised apart and those raised together that 60% of your tendency to become alcohol dependent is inherited," says Dr Sheron. "The rest is due to free will and environmental effects. If you come from a line of alcoholics, your likelihood of becoming an alcoholic is much increased."
Using alcohol to deal with stressful events, such as bereavement or losing a job, can also trigger heavy drinking, which can then lead to alcohol dependence.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence. Like many other drugs, alcohol can be both physically and psychologically addictive. These are some signs to look out for that may suggest you're becoming dependent on alcohol:
>Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol
>Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and it hard to stop once you start
>Waking up and drinking - or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning
>Feelings of anxiety, alcohol-related depression and suicidal feelings - these can develop because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health
>Suffering from physical withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol.
If you're worried you might be becoming dependent on alcohol, Dr Sheron suggests looking at how easy it is for you to go a few days without drinking. "Finding it pretty difficult to cut out alcohol on a Monday or a Tuesday, for example, is a pretty clear sign you have a significant issue and may well have a degree of dependence."
This is why the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) advises that a good way to cut back on your alcohol in-take is to have several drink-free days a week.