What Are The Causes Of Alcohol Addiction
Some of a persons risk in developing an AUD depends on how much, how often, and how quickly they consume alcohol. Certain biological, psychological, and social influences are also believed to play a role in the development of AUDs. Some risks factors that may lead to someone developing an AUD may include:1,4
- A family history of alcoholism.
- Parental drinking patterns.
- Exposure to trauma and stress during childhood.
- Drinking alcohol at an early age. Scientists have found that people who began drinking at age 15 or younger were 5 times more likely to develop an AUD than those who started drinking at age 21 or older. In addition, the risk for females among this group is higher than for males.
Certain psychiatric disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and anti-social personality disorder are commonly associated with alcoholism, although whether or not these co-occurring disorders are a result of alcoholism or contributed to the development of an alcohol use disorder is unclear and may differ per individual. Some studies suggest that schizophrenia, depression, and personality disorders are also predisposing factors for AUDs. This means that if a person has one or more of these psychiatric conditions, they may have an increased risk of alcoholism.5
Alcohol Dependence Vs Alcohol Addiction
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, dependence is a state in which the brain functions normally only in the presence of a drug. Within hours or a few days of having their last drink, people dependent on alcohol will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms that may include hand tremors, nausea or sweating.
Addiction to alcohol, however, is a disease characterized by a compulsion to drink and an inability to control ones alcohol intake. People who are dependent on alcohol are often addicted to the substance, but it is possible to be dependent and not addicted.
While the American Psychiatric Association used to separate alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence into two distinct disorders, both are now categorized into a single diagnosis called alcohol use disorder. An alcohol use disorder, which can range from problem drinking to alcoholism, can be classified as mild, moderate or severe, depending on a persons symptoms and drinking behaviors.
Cutting Back Vs Quitting Alcohol Altogether
Whether or not you can successfully cut back on your drinking depends on the severity of your drinking problem. If youre an alcoholicwhich, by definition, means you arent able to control your drinkingits best to try to stop drinking entirely. But if youre not ready to take that step, or if you dont have an alcohol abuse problem but want to cut back for personal or health reasons, the following tips can help:
Set your drinking goal. Choose a limit for how much youll drink, but make sure your limit is not more than one drink a day if youre a woman, two drinks a day if youre a manand try to have some days each week when you wont drink alcohol at all. Write your drinking goal down and keep it where you will frequently see it, such as on your phone or taped to your refrigerator.
Keep a record of your drinking to help you reach your goal. For 3 to 4 weeks, write down every time you have a drink and how much you drink. Reviewing the results, you may be surprised at your weekly drinking habits.
Cut down drinking at home. Try to limit or remove alcohol from your home. Its much easier to avoid drinking if you dont keep temptations around.
Drink slower. When you drink, sip slowly and take a break of 30 minutes or one hour between drinks. Or drink soda, water, or juice between alcoholic drinks. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea, so make sure you eat food when you drink.
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Find Out If Youre Misusing Alcohol
Your doctor or another health care provider can help with the diagnosis. They may say you have alcohol use disorder if you:
- Feel like you have to drink
- Cant control how much you drink
- Feel bad when you cant drink
When you meet with your doctor, talk about your goals. Are you trying to drink less or stop drinking completely? Together, you can start to make a treatment plan. You doctor also can refer you to a treatment center or experts who can help.
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders And Their Treatment
People with alcohol use disorders drink to excess, endangering both themselves and others. This question-and-answer fact sheet explains alcohol problems and how psychologists can help people recover.
Understanding alcohol use disorders and their treatment.
For many people, drinking alcohol is nothing more than a pleasant way to relax. People with alcohol use disorders, however, drink to excess, endangering both themselves and others. This question-and-answer fact sheet explains alcohol problems and how psychologists can help people recover.
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Evaluating The Costs And Benefits Of Drinking
Make a table like the one below, weighing the costs and benefits of drinking to the costs and benefits of quitting.
|Is drinking worth the cost?
|Benefits of drinking
How To Get Help For Alcohol Addiction
There are multiple ways to get help from alcohol dependence, including treatment, medication, and behavioral intervention. Often, the user is one of the last to recognize or realize his or her use is a problem, often thinking I have this under control. Once an alcohol use disorder has developed, however, it can be extremely to quit without help. Fortunately, there are ways to get help.
Ethanol is abused at a higher rate than any other drug among treatment program attendees, as reported by a 2017 survey from Recovery Brands. Nearly 70% of people who took the survey went to treatment to get help with a drinking problem, and a surprising 52.87% of those who responded reported seeking treatment for a problem with alcohol more than any other substance. No matter how many substances of abuse there are, the one that causes the most extensive harm is ethanol. Fortunately, alcohol abuse treatment is only a phone call away. Speak with our recovery support specialists at Who Answers?
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What Is Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction can appear through many signs and symptoms.
If you feel like drinking is the only way to wind down or release stress, if you are unable to control how much you drink, or if you feel the need to drink more alcohol to achieve the buzz you need are all examples of being addicted.
Some addicts want to drink or catch a buzz before attending parties or events. They think this will help them socialize better. And if they cant drink ahead of time, they avoid going altogether.
Some who are dependent on alcohol find reasons to drink during the day or night, they feel withdrawal symptoms when trying to not drink, or they continue to drink even though it causes rifts in relationships or interferes with working and completing other responsibilities.
Alcohol abuse disorder develops over time, and it is the brain that encourages someone to become addicted.
What Are Treatment Options For Alcoholism
Treating alcohol addiction can be complex and challenging. In order for treatment to work, the person with an alcohol addiction must want to get sober. You cant force them to stop drinking if they arent ready. Success depends on the persons desire to get better.
The recovery process for alcoholism is a lifetime commitment. There isnt a quick fix and it involves daily care. For this reason, many people say alcohol addiction is never cured.
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Relapse Is Part Of The Process
Relapse is common among people who overcome alcohol problems. People with drinking problems are most likely to relapse during periods of stress or when exposed to people or places associated with past drinking.
Just as some people with diabetes or asthma may have flare-ups of their disease, a relapse to drinking can be seen as a temporary setback to full recovery and not a complete failure. Seeking professional help can prevent relapsebehavioral therapies can help people develop skills to avoid and overcome triggers, such as stress, that might lead to drinking. Most people benefit from regular checkups with a treatment provider. Medications also can deter drinking during times when individuals may be at greater risk of relapse .
Mental Health Issues and Alcohol Use Disorder
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with heavy drinking. Studies show that people who are alcohol dependent are two to three times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime. When addressing drinking problems, its important to also seek treatment for any accompanying medical and mental health issues.
Heavy Drinkers Response To Alcohol
The release of endorphins in the brain and the compulsion to drink more to recreate that feeling is even more pronounced in those who drink heavily. The more they drink, the more endorphins are released, the happier they feel and the more likely they are to crave alcohol.
When cravings meet physical dependence, binge drinking or alcohol abuse turns into alcohol addiction.
But it may not just be the endorphins.
A study reported by BBC News says that drinking alcohol causes a release of dopamine, another happy chemical, as well. Again, the issue is that drinkers feel good when they drink the more they drink, the better they feel and they want to replicate that feeling when they can.
This makes binge drinking especially attractive to those who are functional , but binge drinking can quickly turn into alcohol addiction or be the cause of an accident that can be dangerous or deadly to the drinker or someone they care about.
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Teen Drinking Patterns And How They Contribute To Addiction
When it comes to substance abuse, alcohol ranks at the top among teenagers. They use alcohol more often than marijuana or cigarettes. Also, their alcohol use tends to increase as they age. Percentages of teens who use alcohol among girls and boys do not have significant differences. Therefore, your teen girl is not exempt from underage drinking or alcohol addiction.
Teenagers do not have the same pattern of alcohol use as adults. Adolescents dont drink as often, but much of what they consume happens through binge drinking episodes. Repeatedly binge drinking impacts the still-growing teenage brain. Teens who binge drink can experience long-term effects with cognitive impairment, attention, and memory.
The impacts on the brain can also make drinking in teens more likely to become an addiction. Teen drinking that starts before 15 can lead to a significantly greater likelihood of developing alcohol addiction in the future. However, external factors that lead teens to drink can also affect their chances of developing a dependency on alcohol and needing a substance abuse treatment program.
Starting With A Primary Care Doctor
For anyone thinking about treatment, talking to a primary care physician is an important first stephe or she can be a good source for treatment referrals and medications. A primary care physician can also:
Evaluate a patients drinking pattern
Help craft a treatment plan
Evaluate overall health
Assess if medications for alcohol may be appropriate
Individuals are advised to talk to their doctors about the best form of primary treatment.
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When Is It Time For Treatment
Alcohol-related problemswhich result from drinking too much, too fast, or too oftenare among the most significant public health issues in the United States.
Many people struggle with controlling their drinking at some time in their lives. More than 14 million adults ages 18 and older have alcohol use disorder , and 1 in 10 children live in a home with a parent who has a drinking problem.
Addiction And The Brain
Excessive substance abuse affects many parts of the body, but the organ most impacted is the brain. When a person consumes a substance such as drugs or alcohol, the brain produces large amounts of dopamine this triggers the brains reward system. After repeated drug use, the brain is unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own. This means addicted people may struggle to find enjoyment in pleasurable activities, like spending time with friends or family, when they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug dependency, its vital to seek treatment as soon as possible. All too often people try to get better on their own, but this can be difficult and in some cases dangerous.
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What Are Some Alcoholism Causes And Risk Factors
Over the past several decades, many studies have focused on the causes and risk factors associated with alcoholism. While there is not an exact formula to depict a persons drinking habits, data has shown that alcohol abuse is influenced by a variety of factors. However, alcoholism is a disease that does not discriminate and can impact anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, body type or personal beliefs.
Alcohol dependence can form quickly and aggressively, or it may surface over a longer period of time. Regardless of when or how a drinking problem starts, there are plenty of treatment options available to help get your life back on track. Seeking professional help will provide you with the greatest chance for lasting sobriety.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, help is only a phone call away. to learn about available treatment options.
How Do You Know When You Are Addicted To Alcohol
Even though no one knows precisely what causes a given AUD, there are many signs to identify when you have one, such as when you need to:
- Drink more to feel the same effects
- Drink throughout the day, and progressively earlier
- Drink to wind down, de-stress, or cope with the days events
- Drink despite the problems it causes with your family, coworkers, and social life
- Drink even though you cant control how much you drink
- Drink even though you avoid activities or events where you wont be able to drink
- Drink or you will eventually experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms
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Effects Of Alcohol Dependence On The Body
Being alcohol dependent can lead to a whole range of serious health problems. If youre dependent on alcohol, you increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, coronary alcohol-related heart disease and alcohol-related liver disease.
Prolonged heavy drinking damages your liver. An estimated seven out of 10 people with alcoholic liver disease have an alcohol dependency problem5.
Warning Signs Of Addiction
Addictions begin with experimentation with a substance. There are many reasons someone might initially try a drug: curiosity, peer pressure, stress, and problems at work or home being some of them.
If you are concerned someone you care about is struggling with addiction, there are several red flags you can look for. However, its important to remember everyone is different it may be harder to detect an addiction in some people than in others. That being said, here are some general warning signs to be aware of:
- Ignoring commitments or responsibilities
- Staying up later than usual or sleeping in longer
- Lapses in concentration or memory
- Being oddly secretive about parts of personal life
- Withdrawal from normal social contacts
- Sudden mood swings and changes in behavior
- Unusual lack of motivation
- Weight loss or changes in physical appearance
No one expects to develop an addiction when they begin experimenting. But continued experimentation can lead to addiction, often without the person realizing they have become addicted until they try to stop.
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Drinking At An Early Age
According to the Mayo Clinic, those who begin drinking at an early age are more likely to have an alcohol problem or a physical dependence on alcohol as they get older. Not only is this because drinking may become a comfortable habit, but also because the bodys tolerance levels may increase.
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What Causes Alcohol Dependence
Usually several different factors contribute to someone becoming alcohol dependent. Stressful events, such as bereavement or losing a job, can also trigger heavy drinking, which can then lead to alcohol dependence.
Alcohol dependence can run in families. Its partly down to your genes, but is also influenced by your familys attitudes to alcohol and the environment you grow up in.
People who are alcohol dependent have higher rates of other psychiatric disorders than people in the general population particularly depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis and drug misuse. Often, people drink to try and reduce the symptoms , but in the long term alcohol makes these disorders worse because it interferes with the chemical balance in our brains.
Some people believe that theres such thing as an addictive personality which leads to alcohol dependence. But theres not much strong evidence to support this view.
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Why Its Important To Get Help
Early treatment for problem drinking can make you less likely to get an alcohol use disorder, or prevent an existing AUD from getting worse, Skeer says. This is especially important for teens, because the earlier people start using alcohol, the greater their risk for developing problems with alcohol and other drugs as they get older, she says.
If youâre having trouble stopping or controlling your drinking and need help, talk to your doctor about treatment options.