A Guide to The Main Causes of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a terrible disease that has a devastating impact on the life of the person suffering from alcohol use disorder as well as their family members, friends and co-workers. But the good news for anyone suffering from alcohol addiction is that it can be treated and if you get the right help and support you can stop drinking and live a healthier and more productive life.
The Importance of Understanding Alcoholism and its Risk Factors
The first step on your road to recovery is understanding your addiction and this guide to the main causes of alcoholism is designed to give you some background about alcohol abuse and alcoholism. It is important to realise that alcohol addiction is not a simple condition and there are many social, financial and environmental risk factors that play a role in alcohol dependence, making it difficult to identify who will be the most susceptible.
What is clear about alcoholism is that it does not discriminate in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic circumstances or personal beliefs; it can affect anyone, anywhere and the implications are far-reaching. The most important thing to remember is that the only way to overcome alcohol addiction, remain sober and prevent a relapse is to seek professional alcohol addiction treatment.
Common Causes of Alcohol Use Disorder
There is no pattern to the onset of alcohol use disorder, it can develop quickly, or it may take years to become a full-blown addiction but what is undisputed is that long term heavy drinking and binge drinking alters the chemicals in the brain, making it extremely difficult for people suffering from alcoholism to control their alcohol consumption and when they do try to stop drinking they typically suffer from debilitating withdrawal symptoms.
While there is no definitive guide to the main causes of alcoholism, according to the National Institute on AlcoholAbuse and Alcoholism in America there are certain influences that can increase your risks and several biological, social, psychological and environmental factors that play a significant role in the development and progression of alcohol use disorder.
While some people can easily control their alcohol consumption and only drink in moderation, others cannot, and they feel a strong compulsion to drink alcohol even when they know that it will lead to physical and mental health problems. Research carried out by numerous institutions on the causes of alcohol abuse and addiction have shown that there are close associations between biological factors, like genetics and physiology, and alcohol use disorder.
Scientists studying the link between alcoholism and genetics have yet to establish whether alcohol use disorder is a hereditary disease or a genetic one but there is no doubt that there is a connection between your DNA and your risk of suffering from alcoholism.
Children of alcoholics are far more likely to suffer from alcoholism and a study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in America found that genetic factors account for approximately 50 per cent of the variance among alcoholics. People who have a close family member who suffers from alcohol use disorder are more likely to binge drink or abuse alcohol.
But while biological risk factors play a significant role in alcohol addiction, you can’t ignore the environmental factors and place the blame solely on genetics. Some people are more susceptible to alcohol abuse because of their DNA, but both nature and nurture influence our behaviour. Your environment, culture, family, career, religion and habits all affect your attitude, actions and choices regarding alcohol consumption.
The community or society that you grow up in, and their attitude towards alcohol, will influence how you perceive alcohol abuse and addiction. Young children who are exposed to alcohol abuse and grow up in an environment where heavy drinking is acceptable will have an increased risk of developing alcohol addiction later in life. Adolescents and children who grow up in an emotionally unstable home where they are verbally, physically or sexually abused are also more likely to abuse alcohol as adults.
Everyone handles difficult or challenging situations differently and this can influence your drinking habits, making you turn to alcohol to relieve stress or self-medicate. People who suffer from psychological conditions and mental health problems, like depression, anxiety, ADHD and bipolar disorder, are typically more susceptible to developing alcoholism and need to be careful when consuming alcohol, especially if they take medication.
Income also plays a role in alcohol abuse disorder and individuals who come from higher socio-economic groups are as likely to consume excessive amounts of alcohol as those from poorer areas. In fact, in more affluent communities binge drinking and partying are socially acceptable and generally not perceived as a problem.
- Adolescent and Underage Drinking
- Family History of Addiction
- Social Situations and Peer Pressure
- Stressful Home or Work Environment
Risk Factors of Alcohol Use Disorder
There are a number of risk factors and warning signs that are typically associated with alcohol abuse and addiction, these include:
Drinking at an early age, binge drinking as a teenager and experimenting with alcohol can increase your risk of developing alcohol use disorder.
A family history of addiction is another indicator of potential alcohol abuse. Not only are there genetic factors that increase your risk of alcohol addiction but growing up surrounded by people who drink heavily can influence your attitude towards alcohol.
Everyone is influenced by their friends and co-workers and in an effort to fit in, you may feel like you need to consume copious amounts of alcohol on a regular basis. Giving in to peer pressure and drinking heavily with your work colleagues and friends can lead to a drinking problem.
Many people turn to alcohol to self-medicate and cope with a stressful work or home environment. Excessive alcohol consumption coupled with long working hours and high-stress levels can be a recipe for disaster.
While there is no clear path to alcohol abuse and addiction, this guide to the main causes of alcoholism will hopefully help you spot the warning signs before you develop a drinking problem. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder it is important to seek alcohol addiction treatment as soon as possible.
At Step 1 Recovery we can help you treat your addiction with detox, rehab, cognitive behavioural therapy, support group sessions and counselling. Call us today so that we can help you beat your addiction.