Alcoholism is a complex disease, and no one’s case is the same. Some people are genetically predisposed, some drink to self-medicate as a result of mental or emotional problems or trauma, and some alcoholics are a product of their environment. While it can’t be exactly be predicted, there are some factors that can lead to alcoholism.
Having mental health issues increases the chances that someone will become addicted to alcohol. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, to name just a few, can lead people to drink in order to drown out their feelings. Unfortunately, alcohol can sometimes exacerbate these feelings, driving people to drink more and more in an effort to cope with their problems. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of alcoholics also have a depressive disorder and 19.4 percent have an anxiety disorder.
Some people have personalities that lend themselves to addiction. People who are more inclined to pursue risky behaviors or ignore the possible negative consequences of their actions are more likely to engage in heavy drinking. People who are introverted, lack self-confidence, or suffer from social anxiety sometimes drink to lessen their inhibitions, so they feel like they can better fit in to a crowd or make themselves seem more likable.
Sometimes, events in a person’s life can lead them to either drink or abstain. For example, someone who grew up with two parents who drank heavily might themselves develop a drinking habit later in life. Children with alcoholic parents are also more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, relationship difficulties, behavioral problems, and other factors that can lead them to drink. On the other hand, someone who grew up with a parent who became abusive when drunk might swear to themselves that they will never drink because they don’t want to become like that person.
Before a child is even conceived, there are genetic factors at play. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, genetics accounts for about half of a person’s vulnerability to addiction. Biological children of alcoholics are more likely to become alcoholics themselves, even if they are not raised by those parents.
Although not a guarantee of sobriety, people who adhere to religions that do not permit drinking are far less likely to become alcoholics. Some of these religions include Islam, Mormonism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Orthodox Judaism.
Typically, alcohol use begins in the late teens or early twenties. Kids will begin drinking when they go off to college and meet older people who can buy alcohol for them, and it tends to peak in the late to mid twenties. However, the younger someone begins drinking, the more likely they are to develop an alcohol abuse problem, particularly if they start before age 15.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.