Alcoholism is a terrible condition, and as with all diseases, it’s essential to understand the common causes of alcoholism. Knowing what can increase the risk of addiction helps at-risk individuals for a few reasons. Whether you’re someone looking to avoid going down the same path as a family member or you’re someone struggling with alcoholism yourself, learning about the common causes of alcoholism will help you to identify and avoid them.
Although there isn’t a blood test or brain scan to diagnose alcoholism, identifying the causes that will lead to developing it reveals the risk factors. While having a risk factor or two doesn’t always mean someone will develop alcoholism, it’s good to know and avoid risks increasing your chance of becoming addicted to alcohol. Throughout this article, we’ll shed some light on the common causes of alcoholism and where you can find the help you need.
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Underlying Causes Of Alcoholism
Unfortunately, there’s no changing family history, and those who have a family member that has suffered from addiction are at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. This, of course, includes alcoholism.
This risk factor goes down in potential as the relation gets further away. For example, a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with a substance use disorder increases a person’s risk more than if the relative is distant, such as an uncle or cousin.
The truth of the matter is that family history could highlight a genetic predisposition to substance abuse disorders, and a person can experience a higher risk of developing alcoholism as the result of a genetic factor. With this being said, there could be a learning factor raising the risk or even a combination of learning and genetics.
Even though turning to alcohol isn’t always the product of one’s environment, the wrong environment can definitely promote alcoholism. The stressors in one’s environment can be enough to drive a person to drink heavily, and the stressors are as intense as the individual perceives them.
Some people are at a higher risk of developing alcoholism due to the stress they experience at their jobs. Others grow up in an environment full of peer pressure, pushing them towards the bottle. Lowering the risk factors associated with a stressful environment is something people can do actively though.
Furthermore, social and cultural factors play a role in creating an environment conducive to the development of alcoholism. One of the most common causes of alcoholism is having friends and family who regularly drink. And the way drinking is depicted in media encourages drinking by approving of drinking in excess.
Lowering this kind of risk factor involves taking healthy actions. Some people find that the key to diminishing this risk is to involve oneself in healthy de-stressing activities, such as exercising, napping, or reading.
Mental Health Disorder
While a lot of people suffer from alcoholism prior to developing mental disorders, having a mental disorder puts one at a higher risk of developing an alcohol addiction as well. Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and various other mental health issues can facilitate the decision to drink, making these mental health issues some of the more common psychological causes of alcoholism.
Drinking provides temporary relief to those suffering from these issues. It allows them to suppress their feelings of depression or anxiety. Patients use alcohol as a method of self-medicating, lacking an understanding of how the drinks are only a temporary fix.
This method of substance abuse is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a deep wound; eventually, the band-aid will no longer work as effectively. Over time, this leads to more drinking, and this can result in an addiction to alcohol.
Trauma, or a stressful event that causes trauma, can put a person at a higher risk of becoming dependent on alcohol, or other substances for that matter. The increase in risk could be due to the potential for self-medication, but there is a multitude of types of traumatic experiences that can drive a person to substance abuse.
The impact that trauma has on a person’s mind makes them more likely to use alcohol to suppress what they’re going through. Whether a person is experiencing PTSD from combat, physical or sexual abuse, or something else, they’re more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder if they’ve experienced some sort of trauma. And sometimes, the substance they’ll turn to is alcohol.
Age Of First Use
When an individual begins drinking alcohol at an early age, they are more likely to continue drinking throughout their life. As the drinking progresses, the potential for this use to develop into alcoholism increases.
While alcohol use might start when a person is a teenager, the disorder tends to come later on in life. Alcoholism can begin at any age, but it’s most likely to develop when a person is in their 20s and 30s.
Other Risk Factors
While the most common causes of alcoholism are generally understood, other variables can play a primary role in increasing a person’s risk of developing this disease. Gender-wise, men are at a higher risk than women when it comes to developing substance abuse disorders.
When a person drinks a lot of alcohol regularly, they’re also raising their risk of developing alcoholism. While this can result in health problems relating to alcohol, it can also promote alcohol use disorder as well.
Teachings can also increase one’s risk. If a person is brought up in or living in an environment where the typical way to deal with problems is drinking, they can experience an increase in their risk for alcoholism.
Although many common causes of alcoholism exist, the truth is that each individual is going to experience life through their own perception. With this in mind, each person’s perception allows them to experience and react to these risk factors differently.
While one person’s life experiences might drive them to drink, the same experience could impact another person in other ways. Although these risk factors increase one’s risk for developing alcoholism, they’re not definite determiners of one’s future.