June 4, 2024

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Alcohol?

image of two men talking depicing the question how long does it take to become addicted to alcohol

How long does it take to become addicted to alcohol? This is a common question because many people enjoy alcohol at social events or to relax. However, drinking too much or too often can lead to addiction more quickly than you might think.

Alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight. It depends on many factors, like how much and how often you drink, as well as personal variables. Some people may start to develop physical dependence in just a few weeks, while for others, it might take months or even years.

Read on and learn what leads to alcohol addiction and how to get effective treatment.

Factors That Influence Onset of Alcohol Addiction

Several factors can influence how quickly someone becomes addicted to alcohol.

  • Genetics: Genetics plays a big role, accounting for about 50% of the risk. If your family has a history of alcohol addiction, you might be more likely to develop it too.
  • Frequency and amount: How much and how often you drink also matter. Regular heavy drinking can speed up the process of becoming addicted.
  • Age: Starting to drink at a young age can increase the risk of developing alcohol addiction later in life.
  • Mental health: People with mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, may turn to alcohol to cope, increasing the risk of addiction.
  • Environment: Your surroundings, including your friends and family, can impact your drinking habits. Being around others who drink heavily can make you more likely to drink too much.

Understanding these factors can help you recognize the risk and take steps to prevent alcohol addiction.

General Timeline for Alcohol Addiction

The timeline for alcohol addiction can vary from person to person, but here is a general idea of how it can develop:

  • Initial use: This is when someone starts drinking alcohol, often socially or occasionally. At this stage, drinking is usually controlled and infrequent.
  • Regular use: Drinking becomes more frequent, such as on weekends or at social events. The person may start to drink more each time.
  • Risky use: The person begins drinking more heavily and more often, possibly every day. This stage includes binge drinking and drinking to cope with problems.
  • Tolerance: Over time, the person has to drink more alcohol to feel the same effects. This means their body is getting used to the alcohol, which can lead to drinking larger amounts.
  • Dependence: The person feels they need alcohol to function or feel normal. They may start to experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, shakiness, or irritability when not drinking.
  • Addiction: The person loses control over their drinking. They drink despite knowing the negative effects on their health, relationships, and responsibilities.

Recognizing these stages can help stop alcohol addiction. If you or someone you know is moving through these stages, get help promptly. Addiction is a condition that usually gets worse unless treated.

Image depicting a man discussing his alcohol addiction

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

It’s important to spot the signs of alcohol use disorder early so you can get help. Here are some common signs:

  • Drinking more than planned: Often drinking more or longer than you meant to.
  • Trying to cut down: Wanting to drink less or stop but not being able to.
  • Spending a lot of time drinking: Using a lot of time to drink or recover from drinking.
  • Cravings: Strong urges to drink alcohol.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Failing to do things at home, school, or work because of drinking.
  • Continuing to drink despite problems: Drinking even when it causes trouble with family, friends, or work.
  • Giving up activities: Stopping activities you used to enjoy so you can drink instead.
  • Drinking in dangerous situations: Drinking in unsafe situations like when driving.
  • Developing tolerance: Needing more alcohol to feel the same effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms: Feeling sick when alcohol wears off, such as shaking, sweating, or feeling anxious.

If you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, get help from a doctor or counselor. Early intervention can make a big difference in recovery.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Treatment can include several methods:

  • Behavioral therapy: Talking with a mental health professional can help change your behavior. Common methods include motivational therapy, CBT, and contingency management.
  • Medications: FDA approves acamprosate and naltrexone for treating alcoholism. Gabapentin and topiramate can also help some people reduce cravings. An older drug, disulfiram, is used less often now. These medications can help lessen the urge to drink.
  • Support groups: Group meetings with others who have alcohol use disorder can help you stay sober. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings are free and available in most places. Other recovery groups include SMART Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and Rational Recovery.

The type of treatment you need will depend on how severe your condition is and where you are in your recovery. Treatment can be delivered in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

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Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you or a loved one needs alcohol addiction treatment, reach out to Gratitude Lodge in Southern California. We have welcoming and pet-friendly rehab centers in Long Beach and Newport Beach, CA.

Contact our admissions team for a free insurance coverage check and guidance with using your health insurance to cover the costs of alcohol rehab.

Choose our medical detox program for the safest and most comfortable alcohol withdrawal experience. Access medications and 24/7 care while detoxing and then move into ongoing inpatient treatment at one of our luxury beachside treatment facilities.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs use the following therapies:

Call our friendly recovery team to get started today at 800-994-2184.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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Psychotherapy

An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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Sober Living

Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
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Outpatient Treatment

Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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Inpatient
Treatment

Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
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Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.