It's no secret that alcohol can be addicting. Thus, in order to fight off that addiction, one must first understand the scientific basis of this addiction. An individual’s craving for alcohol is directly related to dopamine, the chemical related to pleasure and satisfaction. Once a person ingests alcohol their brain liberates dopamine into their body, causing them to feel a sudden burst of pleasure. Alcohol also increases the amount of endorphin in the body, a neurotransmitter that can control both excitement and pain. The mind is therefore falsely sent into feelings of initial happiness.
Another part of what makes individuals crave for alcohol is human psychology. Ivan Pavlov made a study in 1897 that confirmed that dogs (later experiments would extend this reaction to humans as well) tended to associate events to results in an almost subconscious level. Pavlov's experiment showed that a dog could be trained to start salivating at the sound of a bell, because he associated it with food. This is the same kind of conditioning that causes alcohol craving, as a 1986 study yielded impressive results that at least 93% of its subjects were shown to have at least one sort of trigger related to alcohol.
What happens is that people generally start to drink when they are under a lot of stress, and due to the aforementioned chemicals they feel much better after a drink or two. Their bodies then start to associate alcohol with a cure for stress, the same way a dog associates a bell with food. When people are subjected to even larger amounts of stress, their bodies basically shut down and look for a way to get out of that state, because stress can be very harmful to the human body. The brain then remembers that drinking alcohol diminished stress levels significantly, which in turn generates cravings.
According to a study in 2004, a particular gene also appears to influence the risk of alcohol dependence as well. Individuals with this gene might have an increased risk of alcoholism. Studies show that the power of alcohol cravings is incredibly strong, as 90% of alcoholics are likely to experience one relapse over the first 4 years after abstinence.
To reduce cravings, there are currently only 3 medications available and approved by the FDA to combat Alcoholism. One works to cause a severe adverse reaction in combination with alcohol, one works to block the dopamine and one focuses on the reducing the physical and emotional discomfort that individuals can experience when they stop drinking. Some doctors suggest that specific types of nutrition such as reducing your caffeine and sugar intake may also help decrease alcohol cravings.
Education and therapy also help to reduce alcohol cravings. With knowledge comes power, and alcohol awareness classes provide information on what the negative effects of alcohol are to your body and life. Students will also learn different techniques that have proven successful to overcome the addiction. High quality classes at Alcohol Drug Class can be taken online in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Try to choose one in which you can contact a practicing and licensed therapist with any questions. This gives the added support necessary for the addict to begin his/her road to recovery. Minors can take a MIP Class.