Alcohol addiction is a heavily researched subject with many risk factors linked to an alcoholic outcome (dependence and abuse). Family history of alcoholism, low responsivity, mental health conditions, and cultural background can predict addiction. Here are three main risk factors of alcohol dependence and abuse:
1. Biological Risk Factors
Alcohol dependence and biological factors like genetics and physiology have close links. Some people can easily limit the amount of alcohol they consume. Others experience strong impulses to keep drinking. People raised in families where drinking is rampant may also develop alcoholic outcomes because of their exposure to the substance.
Some scientists indicate alcohol dependence may be linked to genes in various chromosome regions. If the predictions are correct, the genes may pass down from parents to children, increasing the risk of alcohol dependence. Studies have shown significant positive associations between alcohol dependence and parental alcohol problems. You might face similar challenges if your parents act on their impulses and find it difficult to avoid alcohol.
For some, alcohol gives off feelings of pleasure and may change the brain’s chemical makeup. Certain chemicals also make you more susceptible to alcohol abuse. You may experience low responsivity, which allows you to take more drinks in one sitting. Other people get drunk after just a few drinks. Low responsivity can lead to heavy drinking, which increases the risk of alcohol dependence. Addiction treatment centers can help you navigate biological risk factors.
2. Environmental Risk Factors
Various social and environmental factors are linked with alcohol use. Your proximity to alcohol retail stores and late-night bars affects your chances of participating in drinking. People who live closer to alcohol establishments might have a more positive outlook on drinking as a leisure activity. Alcohol manufacturers also maintain heavy advertising to the general public. The advertisements showcase drinking as an acceptable, fun, relaxing thing to do with friends.
Exposure to such stimulus and opportunities make it easier to participate in drinking. Income is another environmental factor that can influence the amount of alcohol you consume. People in affluent neighborhoods with higher household incomes are more likely to drink than those living below the poverty line. They have more money to spend on alcohol, which can lead to abuse and dependence. Cultural backgrounds also influence drinking behaviors.
Some cultures and religions forbid alcoholism, while others celebrate it. Your family and work influence also shape your opinions and approach to alcohol use. Children exposed to alcohol at an early age risk developing problems as teens and adults. Going to college, getting a new job, and switching neighborhoods can also leave you susceptible to alcoholism. Some people start drinking alcohol to fit in or because of peer pressure or other sociocultural incentives.
3. Psychological Risk Factors
Different psychological factors can increase the chances of alcohol use. People with stress, antisocial behavior, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are vulnerable to developing an addiction. Everyone deals with alcoholic impulses differently. Some people use alcohol to escape stress or unwind after a long day. There is the potential to develop psychological dependence if they maintain the routine long enough.
Drinking to suppress feelings or relieve the symptoms of psychological disorders can lead to alcohol addiction. The more you turn to alcohol, the harder it becomes to resist drinking when faced with similar feelings and impulses. Over time, your drinking develops into a habit that can lead to alcohol use disorder. Your body will become tolerant to the alcohol, causing you to drink more frequently or more per session.
Alcohol abuse that co-occurs with mental health conditions can cause serious side effects. To overcome this challenge, you should seek treatment from a medical specialist and addiction center. Psychological factors affect different chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain. People have different triggers that can affect moods, impulses, and the need for escapism. Other users take pride in drinking large amounts of alcohol and slowly develop dependence.
Seek Help for Alcohol Addiction
The risk factors of alcohol addiction vary greatly. Some people experience facial flushing accompanied by hives, nausea, migraines, and low blood pressure after drinking alcohol. Such responses can keep you from consuming large amounts of alcohol. You should be vigilant every time you drink to avoid tendencies that lead to addiction. If you notice a problem or strong impulse, seek treatment promptly to prevent the harm of alcohol abuse and dependence.