Alcohol Addiction: Its First Signs and Causes

Drunk man sleeps at bar counter, alcohol addiction

High-intensity drinking, also known as binge drinking, is when a person consumes alcohol two or three times above the average level. In the same data, the NIAAA specified that binge drinking is prevalent in young men and women between 18 to 30.

It makes one wonder, why is alcohol addictive?

The Addictive Factors of Alcohol

People drink for different reasons; sadly, most develop alcohol dependence. According to science, the brain produces several chemicals when you drink alcohol. Dopamine and endorphins are two examples of these chemicals, which give us feelings of pleasure and act as our body’s natural painkillers. Drinking can cause a surge of these chemicals, making people drink regularly to feel pleasurable again.

Consistent use of addictive substances can cause brain and body changes. Soon, their body will crave alcohol. This intense need to drink is alcohol dependence, which can quickly turn into an addiction.

Finding a solution is difficult since there is no single treatment for everyone. Psychological and physical factors should be considered in overcoming addiction to most addictive substances.

Physical Factors

Research has shown genetic factors play a role in determining how the brain reacts to alcohol. Some people’s brains release more pleasure chemicals when they drink alcohol, making them more vulnerable to addiction.

Alcohol can alter the brain’s chemistry and lead to addiction. Overloaded reward and pleasure centers in the brain can lead to cravings for repeating those same experiences. Even though someone might want to quit, alcohol can affect impulse control and decision-making, making relapse more likely. It also makes them more dependent on alcohol, which can easily turn into alcohol abuse.

Psychological Factors

Stress can also cause addiction. Alcohol becomes a coping mechanism that provides a temporary and unhealthy way to deal with unpleasant feelings. It can turn into a habit that is difficult to break.

Common Causes of Alcoholism

Several risk factors can lead to alcoholism. They are evident in the lives and struggles of people with alcohol dependence or addiction.

Some common causes of alcoholism include:

Juvenile Drinking

You are more likely to become dependent on alcohol and exhibit alcoholism symptoms the earlier you drink, especially if you start before 15. When you are young, you might get used to drinking faster than you should

This is especially true for college-aged binge drinkers. On average, the first stages of alcoholism begin during the teenage years. Then, it peaks in your 20s and slows down in your 30s. Drinking alcohol at an early age can lead to long-term health problems that can continue into your 40s or 50s.

Family History

Family history can largely determine the causes of alcoholism. A person is more likely to become an alcoholic if a relative or parent suffers from alcoholism. Scientists say that there is no single gene that causes alcoholism. Instead, several genes contribute to the development of risk factors that lead to alcoholism. People who carry these genes are more likely to drink if they also have to deal with psychological and social influences connected to addiction.

A history of alcohol addiction in your family is a genetic and biological risk factor. However, it can also be an environmental factor. You don’t have to be a member of the same family to become addicted to alcoholism; just being around people who often drink can cause you to do the same.

Mental Health Disorders

People suffering from mental disorders often drink to ease their symptoms and to feel better. Although alcohol can temporarily relieve symptoms such as anxiety and depression, frequent drinking can lead to high tolerance and eventual alcoholism.

Stressful Environments

People who experience stress at home often drink to reduce their stress and become addicted to alcohol. . Research from the NIAAA shows that men who are stressed are 1.5 times more likely to binge drink than women. Workers with long shifts and high-demand jobs like lawyers, doctors, and construction workers are more susceptible to developing alcoholism because of their stressful environments. People who have recovered from alcoholism may also find stress can trigger their emotions, which can cause them to relapse.


All forms of abuse can mentally traumatize anyone. Failing to address past abuse in therapy can make someone resort to heavy drinking to improve their situation temporarily. It’s a vicious cycle that is dangerous and potentially deadly.

Peer Pressure

High school and college students feel the need to be accepted and part of the fun. Teens and young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 have long accepted heavy drinking as normal, a factor that contributes to alcoholism.

Peer pressure does not only occur at an early age. Adults can feel pressured to drink; drinking is a common socially acceptable practice. All ages are encouraged to drink, and the media glorifying the act does not help.

The First Signs of Alcoholism

Several warning signs can help you recognize alcohol addiction. Many signs are easy to recognize, but others are harder to spot. The severity of an individual’s alcohol abuse could also play a part in which signs of alcoholism they display. Some people attempt to hide their alcohol abuse by drinking alone and avoiding contact with others, making it difficult for their friends and family to help them.

It is easy to overlook mild alcoholism symptoms. What may seem like a minor problem can quickly become serious. These warning signs are not to be ignored.

Noticing these symptoms can get you the treatment you need sooner than you think:

Slow Reaction Time

People suffering from alcoholism have impaired information processing, which results in a slower reaction time. If you suspect a person has alcohol-related problems, observe their movement and behavior. Most often than not, these are telltale signs that there is something wrong.


People with alcohol addiction often experience blacking out or losing their memory after binge drinking. Blackouts refer to gaps in a person’s memory that result from extreme alcohol consumption that results in the hippocampus temporarily preventing the transfer of memories or memory consolidation.

Sudden alcohol intolerance may also lead to blackouts and withdrawal.

Troubles With Motor Coordination

According to a Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System research, heavy drinkers can develop a tolerance to alcohol over time for some fine motor tasks but not for more complex tasks. However, medical professionals have observed that heavy drinkers start showing trouble with their motor coordination through time. This is quite dangerous because it can lead to accidents.

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