Wine is a common and popular alcoholic beverage. Most bottles of wine contain 12 to 15% alcohol by volume. Drinking wine occasionally, and in small amounts, is not harmful. In fact, it even has a number of benefits, including improving heart health and curbing cholesterol levels. Red wines, in particular, are rich sources of a plant compound called resveratrol, which has antioxidant properties. It can protect your body from the stressors that cause diseases like cancer.
However, because of its alcohol content, wine has the potential to be addictive. If you drink too much wine, or drink it too often, you may end up with a condition known as alcohol use disorder, or AUD. This is the formal term for alcohol addiction that rehab professionals prefer to use.
How would you know if you have AUD? What are its signs? Read on to find out more.
What causes wine addiction?
Over time, when you have a habit of drinking wine a lot, it may cause you to become dependent on alcohol. The substance alters your brain chemistry, causing pleasurable feelings when you drink wine. Eventually, your body would be so used to the presence of alcohol inside you, and if left unchecked, a time will come when you can no longer function normally without alcohol. When this happens, it’s a clear sign that you are suffering from AUD.
Nobody who enjoys drinking wine intends to get AUD. But it does happen to some people who drink often and in large amounts.
Researchers have not quite pinpointed the exact causes of AUD yet. However, they have identified factors that increase the chances of developing AUD. These include:
- For men, drinking more than 15 glasses of wine per week
- For women, having more than 12 glasses of wine per week
- Drinking more than 5 glasses of wine a day at least once a week
- Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression
- At least one parent or close relative who suffers from AUD
- Peer pressure, especially among young adults
- High stress levels
- Low self-esteem
- Living in an environment where drinking alcohol is acceptable and/or encouraged
What are the signs of addiction to wine?
AUD often triggers profound changes in your behaviors and lifestyle. Your compulsion to drink alcohol can overpower other aspects of your life.
If you suffer from AUD, you will likely exhibit the following behavior patterns:
- Neglecting personal hygiene and grooming
- Ditching school or work to have more time for drinking wine
- Failing to fulfill family obligations
- Poor eating habits
- Giving up hobbies, social clubs, and other personal endeavors
- Isolating yourself when drinking wine
- Being unable to curb your drinking habits
- Continuing to drink wine even when you know of its negative consequences
- Getting in trouble with the law
Simply said, alcohol would take over your life, and most of your activities would revolve around finding, buying, and drinking wine.
At this stage, quitting would be hard because of withdrawal symptoms.
What are those withdrawal symptoms?
When you try to suddenly stop drinking wine, you will feel a range of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This is because your body is trying to adjust to the absence of alcohol.
These withdrawal symptoms come in waves. The first wave happens anywhere from 6 to 12 hours after your last drink. These are:
After 12 to 24 hours, an additional set of withdrawal symptoms would show up:
- Hand tremors
Additionally, after 48 hours, there would be more:
- High blood pressure
- High fever
- Excessive sweating
- Delirium tremens (DT)
If you can endure these withdrawal symptoms, they often improve after about 5 days. But in other cases, the symptoms may persist for a longer time.
Among all the withdrawal symptoms listed above, DT is the most severe. It can sometimes lead to death if medical attention is not given immediately.
Are there treatments for wine addiction?
Fortunately, there are a number of evidence-based treatments that can help you if you have AUD. Talk to a rehab professional to get a customized treatment plan that suits your unique needs.
Often, the first step in treating AUD is reorienting your brain and body to function without alcohol. This is done through medically assisted detox. Here, doctors will help you bring down your intake of wine gradually. At the end of detox, you should be fine without drinking any alcohol at all.
A crucial part of detox is managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, especially the more severe ones. Doctors may prescribe a few medications to help, such as naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate. These drugs help eliminate the urges and cravings to drink wine. They also work to restore the brain’s chemical balance to what it was before the drinking problem started.
If you have a severe case of AUD, you may need to enroll yourself in an inpatient rehab program. Here, you would live in a rehab facility for a few months to focus on therapy. Medical and mental health professionals are always on standby to help you anytime you need it. Also, you would go through a variety of therapies designed to retrain you to live a sober life once again.
How can I avoid wine addiction?
The most effective way to avoid AUD is to not drink wine altogether. But not everyone is keen to abstain from drinking, so here are some ways to keep yourself safe from AUD while enjoying wine.
The most important rule is drinking moderately. Based on guidelines from the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), this means men should only drink up to two glasses of wine per day, and for women, one glass a day. If you can avoid daily drinking, then you further lower your risk of developing AUD.
Here is another useful trick. When drinking wine, take small sips from your glass each time. This way, you limit the amount of alcohol entering your body. You would avoid feeling drunk, and at the same time, you would most likely not get AUD.