Alcoholism is one of the most commonly diagnosed substance use disorders in the country. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, over 29 million people over the age of 12 have experienced alcohol use disorder in the past year alone. Understanding the causes of alcoholism and why it’s so prevalent can help to break the stigmas associated with alcohol abuse. This way, more people who are struggling with alcoholism can get the help they need through treatment and recovery, leading to a more fulfilling and healthy life.
Understanding the Causes of Alcoholism
There is no one thing that causes a person to be at a higher risk for developing alcoholism. Every person is different, and each person who develops alcohol use disorder may decide to pick up their first drink for any number of reasons. And, addiction, including alcoholism, can impact anyone’s life, regardless of age, culture, race, religion, or any other descriptor. However, there are some commonly identified things that factor into whether or not a person is at a higher risk for alcoholism, commonly referred to as causes of alcoholism.
Some of the more commonly cited causes of alcoholism can include:
Physical Causes of Alcoholism
Something happens in the body for a person to develop alcoholism. People who have family members who also struggle with alcoholism are at a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder themselves as a result of these biological factors. These genetic factors are believed to play a part in how some people can stop drinking after a couple of beers and others (people who develop alcoholism) can drink all night without feeling like they need to stop. This is because people who have a genetic predisposition for alcoholism may experience more of a pleasurable feeling, which can cause the brain to tell the body to repeat the behavior of drinking. Thus, leading to dependence and eventual addiction to alcohol.
Social Causes of Alcoholism
Along with physical, and biological causes of alcoholism, there are also social things that can put people at risk for developing alcoholism. For example, things like friends, family, culture, and even religious beliefs can be risks for people to develop alcoholism. When you are surrounded by a society that accepts and normalizes drinking, people find more reasons to drink and even drink heavily, which can increase the risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. Furthermore, being exposed to alcohol as a young person when social circles, like family, are involved in drinking can increase a person’s risk of developing substance use issues.
Psychological Causes of Alcohol Use Disorder
Another thing that can contribute to the risk of alcohol use disorder is psychological influences. Many people who struggle with mental health issues don’t get the help they need to manage the symptoms of mental health conditions. This is often due to not wanting to face judgment from others or other social stigmas to get mental health help. Instead of getting help, people living with the effects of mental health issues may try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This can lead to the development of alcoholism and other substance use issues. So, psychological issues also play a role in causing alcoholism.