Alcohol addiction can develop as a result of both internal and external factors. Biological conditions and genetics, psychological issues, individual preferences, and drinking history are examples of internal influences. External factors, on the other hand, include family history, environment, and social and cultural standards.
Biological and Genetic Factors
Studies have found a close link between alcohol addiction and biological factors, most notably genetics. For instance, genetics affect how efficiently alcohol is broken down, how bad hangovers are, how much they seek out dangerous behaviors, and how likely they are to stop or continue drinking.
While some people can control how much alcohol they consume, others strongly desire to keep drinking. Some people experience pleasure when drinking alcohol, which motivates the brain to repeat the behavior. This repeated pattern of behavior can increase your risk of developing AUD.
Additionally, certain brain chemicals may increase your risk of abusing alcohol. For instance, research suggests that up to 51 genes across different chromosome regions may be linked to alcohol dependence. Family members are significantly more likely to have drinking issues if these genes are passed down through generations.
The environment in which a person lives has also been found to contribute to alcohol addiction. It is considerably more difficult and expensive to buy alcohol in some nations and states than in others. Therefore, alcohol-related problems are less likely to occur if a person has restricted access. Additionally, family wealth is important. People who have wealthy families and live in affluent areas are more likely to purchase alcohol and become heavy drinkers. According to a study, only 45% of Americans with an annual family income of less than $30,000 drink, compared to 78% of those with an income of $75,000 or more.
Social and Cultural Factors
Many of your actions, including drinking, are influenced by social and cultural factors. Alcohol consumption disorders are more prone to arise when drinking is accepted or encouraged. Family is arguably the most significant social and cultural factor influencing a person’s risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. Children who are exposed to alcohol abuse at a young age are more likely to develop unhealthy drinking habits.
You may become more prone to drinking if you start college or a new career, as there is often pressure to establish ties with peers and make new friends. As a result, you might engage in behaviors you ordinarily wouldn’t do out of a desire to fit in and be accepted. College is particularly problematic as it is a setting where drinking is generally applauded, and harmful behaviors like binge drinking are encouraged.
Treatment is also affected by social and cultural factors, as people suffering from AUD may hide their illness and refuse to get help in societies where drinking is stigmatized.
Psychological factors significantly impact the risk that someone may develop alcohol-related problems. For instance, people who suffer from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or other mental health issues are considerably more prone to developing AUD. This is because alcohol is a common coping mechanism for people who suffer from psychological problems. For example, a study found that approximately 45% of people with bipolar disorder also suffer from AUD.
The more people turn to drinking to cope with difficult feelings, the more tolerant and dependent they become on the effects of alcohol. Multiple dangerous side effects might result from co-occurring alcohol consumption and mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. These problems need to be handled by a medical specialist to be resolved.
Growing up with family members and close relatives who have an alcohol addiction raises the likelihood of future generations abusing alcohol. You might view alcohol consumption differently and develop harmful habits if heavy drinkers surround you.
What Increases the Risk for AUD?
Alcohol addiction does not have a single root cause or a set of factors that increase the risk of developing AUD. In fact, various factors contribute to the emergence of alcohol addiction. Every person’s unique risk variables interact differently, which is why some people develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD) while others don’t.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Becoming Alcohol Dependent
Regular drinking alters how your liver and brain function and causes dependence, requiring you to consume more alcohol to achieve the same effects. Breaking your drinking pattern is a crucial step in identifying and treating dependency. It can help lessen or “reset” your tolerance and keep your body from becoming accustomed to alcohol.
Many people can stop drinking or reduce their alcohol intake to a lower-risk level with the correct encouragement and incentive. The best method to reduce your risk of becoming addicted to alcohol is to take regular breaks from it. If you are dependent on alcohol, seek medical guidance before attempting to quit so you can do it safely.
Am I Drinking Too Much Alcohol?
Understanding whether you or someone you know drinks too much isn’t always easy to gauge. Unhealthy drinking habits can develop gradually, which means it can take a while to realize how they affect your mind and body.
There is no clear threshold of what is deemed too much. However, what is clear is that regular alcohol intake does not benefit health in any form. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive drinking includes binging, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than 21.
When Should Someone Seek help?
Are you or someone you know demonstrating signs of inappropriate behavior, poor judgment, slurred speech, memory loss, or lack of coordination? If so, it is important to seek help from a doctor.
When to Go to Rehab Vs. Just Detox?
While detoxification helps lay the foundation for sobriety, recovery doesn’t usually finish here. Detox provides little help for individuals looking to achieve long-term sobriety, which is why rehabilitation programs are advised following this initial phase of the recovery. However, not every individual who completes a detox follows up with attending rehab.