What Are the Causes of Alcoholism?
There are many causes of alcoholism, or a dependency on alcohol. This terrible condition can result from multiple internal and external factors, including genetic dispositions, environment, and social pressure. This condition is defined by an inability to limit the number of drinks consumed, strong cravings to drink, or failure to fulfill obligations due to drinking.
An important part of recovery is recognizing the causes of alcoholism and the triggers that lead to cravings. While these causes influence the start of excessive alcohol consumption, it is the continued abuse of alcohol that rewires the brain and alters the fundamental functioning of those areas associated with pleasure, judgment, and behavior.
Genetic Causes of Alcoholism
The most difficult cause of alcoholism to recognize in many cases is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Studies by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that about half the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD) is genetic. There are genes that make one more susceptible to overconsumption and use of alcohol. On the other hand, there are also genes that help fight these cravings.
If alcoholism runs in a family, it’s possible that it can develop or already has developed in any member. Look for traces of the condition in immediate family members and see if there are shared traits. This might seem like fighting a losing battle, but it is important to remember that anything can be overcome with the right help and treatment.
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Environmental Causes of Alcoholism
While genetics can dominate in developing an AUD, family life itself can also play a major role. Children have been shown to mimic the drinking behaviors and habits of their parents. If you are, or are becoming, a parent, consider the example you are setting.
Children who are introduced to alcohol at a younger age and have longer exposure to the substance are more likely to develop a dependency or addiction to the substance. As a preventative measure, some parents introduce their children to alcohol while they are well under the legal age. The idea is that they can introduce drinking to their child gradually and reduce the likelihood of binge drinking. However, a study in Australia found that there is no direct correlation.
How easily alcohol can be obtained is another major cause of alcoholism. The expense of alcohol varies greatly between cities and states. 78% of families who make over $75,000 a year drink alcohol, while only 45% of households that make less than $30,000 a year do.
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Social Causes Of Alcoholism
There is an ongoing debate as to the role of nurture versus nature in relation to the development of an AUD. Despite the strong impact of genetics and family, other societal pressures are possible or, at least, partial causes as well.
A common example is young adults entering college. It has become culturally expected to take part in increased drinking, even to the point of binge drinking, while in college. Media, especially movies and television targeted at this demographic, often show the appeal of this behavior, while vilifying those who try to promote responsible decision making and sobriety. This media portrayal of alcohol use creates peer pressure that can push young people looking for friends and acceptance into making decisions they wouldn’t otherwise like binge drinking, skipping classes, and shirking responsibilities.
An additional example of the social causes of alcoholism is the pervasiveness of alcohol advertising. Advertising budgets for major breweries have increased exponentially over the past four decades, putting the glamorous side of drinking in front of millions every day. We are at a point where positive images of drinking and its effects are universally present, creating a societal acceptance of even dangerous drinking behaviors. When drinking is normalized, more people drink and drink heavily, increasing alcoholism rates and making it less likely that many alcoholics will feel the need to seek treatment.
No Matter The Cause, Alcoholism Is Treatable
While external forces may have pushed you into alcoholism, you can still take control. Discovering the underlying causes behind your addiction is a powerful first step toward recovery. If you, or someone you know, needs help, please find it today. Contact a dedicated treatment specialist who is ready to help you on your journey to control.
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