Substance Use

How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Alcohol?

hand chained to alcohol bottle

Table of Contents

Get Help Now

check insurance
Check your insurance by using our Online Form
call us
Talk to someone now.
Call (855) 430-9439

Alcohol Addiction Timeline

There is no set period of time to become addicted to alcohol because everyone is different. However, the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to become addicted. Knowing whether you’re addicted to alcohol can be tricky, but the stages of alcoholism and certain signs of dependence are common to millions of people across the nation.

One sure sign of alcohol dependence is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.

If you’re struggling with the devastating effects of alcohol addiction, Zinnia Health is here to help. We understand that breaking out of this debilitating cycle can be difficult, but we are here to provide you with the addiction treatment you need to reach sobriety. Call our 24/7 helpline at (855) 430-9439.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us

How Long Do You Have to Drink to Be Considered an Alcoholic?

The term “alcoholic” is often used to describe someone who drinks heavily and frequently. But what does it really mean to be an alcoholic? How long do you have to drink before you can be considered one?

1. What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drinking, cravings for alcohol, and difficulty controlling the amount of alcohol consumed. It can lead to physical dependence on alcohol, as well as serious health problems, such as liver damage and heart disease.

According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, misuse of alcohol has been linked to a variety of social, economic, and health-related issues.

2. How Long Does It Take to Become an Alcoholic?

There is no set time to become an alcoholic, as alcohol dependence develops differently depending on individual circumstances. Some people may become addicted after just a few weeks of heavy drinking, while others may take years before they develop an addiction.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking as:

  • Consuming more than four alcoholic beverages in a single day or 14 drinks per week for men
  • Consuming more than three alcoholic beverages in a single day or more than seven drinks per week for women

3. Signs of Alcoholism

According to NIAAA, if you think you might be developing an addiction to alcohol, some signs that could indicate a problem are:

  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Needing more drinks than usual to feel relaxed
  • Having trouble controlling your drinking once started
  • Feeling guilty about how much you’re consuming
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Neglecting work, family, or study responsibilities due to excessive alcohol consumption
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence of alcohol

If any of these sound familiar, find treatment from a professional immediately.

How Often Do You Have to Drink to Become Physically Addicted?

It’s possible to become physically addicted to alcohol after drinking it on a regular basis. The exact amount of time or number of drinks needed for someone to become dependent varies from person to person.

The more often you drink and the more alcohol you consume, the more you increase your risk of developing an addiction.

Do you or a loved one need help overcoming alcohol dependence? If so, Zinnia Health is here for you. With evidence-based treatments, including detox, inpatient, and outpatient care, we are committed to helping you stop drinking and reclaim your life. Call us at (855) 430-9439, day or night.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Happen?

Alcohol addiction occurs when a person’s body becomes so accustomed to having alcohol present that they experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms without it, such as shaking hands and sweating, and have difficulty controlling their consumption levels, even though they know there are negative consequences associated with their drinking habits.

This process typically happens over time due to frequent drinking and heavy alcohol consumption patterns. However, some individuals may develop an addiction faster than others, depending on various factors such as:

  • Family history
  • Genetics
  • Pre-existing mental health conditions like depression or anxiety
  • Their social environment

Is It Easy to Get an Alcohol Addiction?

No one sets out intending to get addicted. However, alcoholism can sneak up on people before they realize what’s happening. Tolerance builds gradually until the individual needs more and more just to feel normal again without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Additionally, peer pressure, especially for young adults, combined with easy access can cause some individuals to develop dependency more quickly than others. 

What Are the Consequences of Drinking Too Much Alcohol?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol abuse can cause the following:

1. Short-Term Effects

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the body’s functions. When someone drinks too much alcohol in one sitting, they can experience short-term effects, such as:

  • Impaired judgment and coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Blackouts
  • Vomiting

These effects can last several hours after people stop drinking. In extreme cases of binge drinking or alcohol poisoning, people may even suffer from seizures.

2. Long-Term Effects

Drinking too much alcohol over an extended period can have serious long-term consequences on your physical and mental health.

Regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of:

  • Developing certain types of cancer, including mouth cancer and liver cancer
  • Heart disease and stroke due to high blood pressure 
  • Depression or anxiety disorders due to changes in brain chemistry 

3. Social Consequences

Excessive drinking can lead to social problems, such as:

  • Relationship issues with family members or friends due to arguments related to drunken behavior or neglecting responsibilities while under the influence of alcohol
  • Legal trouble, such as driving under the influence (DUI), which carries hefty fines and jail time depending on the severity of the offense(s)

Is It Easy to Give Up Alcohol?

How easy or difficult it is to give up alcohol depends on the individual and their personal circumstances. Some people try to quit cold turkey, but they end up drinking shortly afterward due to cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Others may find success with a gradual tapering approach, while still others benefit from more comprehensive treatment programs, which combine medical treatment and psychological counseling.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that addiction is treatable. Treatment gives people the power to fight back against addiction’s destructive consequences on their brains and bodies, giving them the chance to take control of their lives.

Ultimately, everyone is different, so it’s important to find out what works best for you and stick with it, instead of giving up if the first try isn’t successful. It may take some time, but there are plenty of resources available to help you on your journey toward sobriety.

At Zinnia Health, we’re ready to provide the support and guidance necessary to recover from alcoholism. Our alcohol addiction treatments will give you the strength and confidence needed to overcome your struggles with alcohol abuse. Take that important first step towards sobriety today by calling our 24/7 helpline at (855) 430-9439, or contact the national drug abuse hotline for additional resources and support.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us