Many people try to understand whether alcohol addiction is a behavioral or chemical reaction. In reality, it’s a gradual journey from one phase to the other; as control over the condition slowly slips out of reach. Here is an accurate account on how this shift happens and when to notice the red flags.
It begins with that first drink in high school or with friends at that favorite hiding spot, in middle school. As one grows older, they slowly become accustomed drinkers through parties, weddings, social gatherings and so on. At this point, the condition can be deemed as behavioral dependency.
At the Behavioral stage, one has control on their drinking patterns. It’s the stage most drinkers are in; a single beer each evening after work with the boys never hurt anyone. One can decide to cut down on the drinking frequency or quit drinking all together—it is quite easy at this point. But then the frequency increases, it goes unnoticed, a few family members may raise eyebrows, you ignore them then the circuit trip happens.
The chemical dependency stage is when control is given over to the bottle itself. One is no longer in control as a chemical imbalance in the brain keeps triggering the urge to drink. The one bottle a day routine changes, as the urge to drink now comes in the morning, noon time as well as in the evening. Free times are an avenue to drink and every problem one faces in life can only be numbed by the drink.
Pressure builds up, your mortgage is due and the kids need money for tuition, your grandma called in sick—every life problem coming your way can only be solved by the bottle. You start being secretive, hiding the receipts from the liquor store, and your normal water bottle converts into a secret whisky flask. At this point everyone notices you have a problem, they raise concern and it’s only them who can help you recover from the now evident addiction.
That’s the big different between the two; there is some control over the drinking during the behavioral stage but thinks topple when the chemical stage is obliviously reached.