Alcoholism is a complicated condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It can severely affect a person’s health, relationships, and general quality of life. Understanding the risk factors for addiction is critical, especially when assisting people in preventing or overcoming alcoholism.
This invaluable article examines the various risk factors that might lead to alcohol addiction, such as genetics, family history, mental health conditions, peer pressure, and alcohol availability and accessibility.
What is alcohol addiction?
Alcoholism, often known as alcohol addiction, is a chronic and progressive disorder defined by a strong and obsessive need to consume alcohol, despite the detrimental effects that consumption may have.
The signs of alcoholism include, a compelling urge to consume alcohol, an inability to restrict or limit one’s alcohol use, and the development of physical and psychological reliance on alcohol.
What are the root causes of alcoholism?
Research has identified several causes of alcoholism, and they are generally categorized as either biological or environmental.
1. Biological Factors
Genetics – According to the American Psychological Association, genetics account for over half of a person’s factors for addiction. Research has established a link between the presence of ADH1B and ALDH2 variant genes and increased susceptibility to alcoholism.
There are many studies addressing the question is alcoholism hereditary and all have concluded that while it is not possible to inherit alcoholism directly, it is possible to inherit certain risk factors for addiction. These hereditary factors increase the likelihood of an individual developing an addiction to alcohol.
Developmental Stage – According to research, exposure to drugs and alcohol during the teenage developmental stage is a risk factor for drug addiction and alcoholism as an adult. Studies have shown that people who begin taking drugs as teenagers are more likely to develop an addiction when they reach adulthood.
Gender – Gender is not considered a prominent risk factor for addiction; however, its role as one of the causes of alcoholism should not be overlooked.
A study conducted by the NIH in 2010, found that men had more significant addiction rates than women. However, in recent years, the rate differential has narrowed, and currently, a nearly equal number of men and women suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.
Mental Health – A co-occurring mental health issue is one of the crucial risk factors for addiction to substances or alcohol. Those suffering from anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other mental diseases often turn to drugs or alcohol, increasing their chances of becoming addicted.
Incentive sensitization theory – Scientists theorize that drugs and alcohol act as stimuli and cause the brain to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone. The brain interprets the release of dopamine as a reward. The incentive sensitization theory states that some individuals’ brains are more sensitive to “reward-associated stimuli,” and this enhanced sensitivity can lead to addiction.
Just as enhanced sensitivity is one of the factors of addiction, so is a lack of sensitivity. With increased exposure to drugs or alcohol, some individuals develop a tolerance or a decreased sensitivity and require ever-increasing amounts of a drug or alcohol to feel the effects.
2. Environmental Factors
Family – The atmosphere created at home by parents is definitely one of the environmental causes of addiction.
Studies have shown that a troubled environment encourages maladaptive drinking or drug-taking behaviors. Teens who grow up in troubled surroundings are more prone to experimenting with drugs and alcohol, especially if their parents provide little to no supervision.
Alcohol Availability – According to one study, alcohol and drug availability in households, schools, and communities is a recognized risk factor for addiction.
The easy availability of alcohol and medications has resulted in a rise in the number of people becoming addicted to alcohol and medications. Indeed, even though there are age limitations on the purchasing of alcohol, the fact is that it is easy to obtain even for underage people.
Stressors – Many stresses, including sexual abuse, trauma, and poverty, are considered risk factors for addiction.
In an attempt to relax and forget about stressors, many people turn to drugs or alcohol. In this scenario, people are using drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms. If used in the short term and in small quantities, drugs or alcohol can provide temporary relief from stressors. However, using drugs or alcohol as a crutch or coping mechanism also increases an individual’s exposure and the likelihood of becoming addicted.
Peer Group Influence – Another factor commonly noted as a cause of addiction is peer group pressure. Peer group pressure can be defined as a compulsive need to feel accepted and valued by a group of peers or friends. The need to be accepted by one’s peers can lead an individual to engage in harmful behavior, such as taking drugs or consuming alcohol. In short, peer group pressure can lead to increased usage and possible addiction.
Is Alcoholism Hereditary?
Several studies have found that genetics may have a role in the development of alcoholism. However, to date, studies have identified an inherited propensity for alcoholism, but no study has found conclusive evidence of hereditary alcoholism.
The next question is whether there is a gene that causes addiction. While many previous studies have attempted to link alcoholism and genetics, none have identified a specific gene that directly influences the former. According to some research, alcoholic dependency may be linked to up to 51 distinct genes across several chromosomal regions.
Alcoholism is a complicated condition impacted by many variables, including genetic predisposition, environmental circumstances, and an individual’s behavior. A family history of alcoholism, peer pressure, emotional strain, early initiation of alcohol intake, and alcohol availability are the major risk factors for alcoholism.
Understanding the origins and causes of addiction is critical for establishing effective preventive and treatment measures. We can endeavor to reduce the incidence and effect of alcoholism in our communities by addressing the disease’s fundamental causes and prioritizing high-risk individuals. It is critical to remember that alcoholism is a curable disease, and getting treatment is the first step toward recovery.
Let Haven House Recovery help you.
Treatment is the first step toward a brighter future. Professionals in alcohol treatment collaborate with you to develop a tailored, comprehensive recovery plan with achievable goals. Inpatient or outpatient treatment, medication-assisted therapy, counseling, and support groups are all possible components of comprehensive rehabilitation strategies.
At our Nashville rehab center, we provide a faith-based residential program. To assist males in overcoming substance usage, Haven House Recovery combats the risk factors for addiction and the underlying reasons. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!