Alcoholism affects more than 15 million people each year. It has been called various terms over the years, like alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, but it is commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a chronic relapsing brain disease that causes a person to continue drinking compulsively despite any adverse consequences to overall health or daily life.
What Causes Alcohol Use Disorder?
No one knows exactly what causes Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), however, it develops when an individual drinks too much over time, and chemical changes in the brain occur. At the beginning stages of an alcohol use disorder, the person gets pleasurable feelings (due to dopamine release in the brain) when they drink alcohol. This makes them want to continue to drink even though it’s causing them harm. However, the pleasurable feelings they get from using alcohol diminish over time, and the person drinks just to prevent the terrible withdrawal symptoms.
Risk Factors For Alcohol Use Disorder
We know that alcoholism affects more men than women. Risks for alcohol use disorder can be caused by a combination of genetic, psychological, environmental, and social factors, and many of these factors are still being researched. Some of the most common factors for developing symptoms of alcoholism usually include:
- Family history – Genetics and environmental and lifestyle influences shared by family members increase a person’s risk of AUD. ChildreFor example, children arent with alcoholism are 2 to 6 times more likely to develop alcohol use disorder than anyone else.
- Heavy, chronic drinking – Alcohol alters your brain, specifically dopamine receptors. This can cause intense cravings in chronic users.
- History of trauma – Trauma of any kind has been linked to an increased risk for addiction and alcohol use disorder in adults.
- Mental health disorders – Anyone with existing mental illnesses, especially those with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, have higher rates of AUD and substance abuse issues. For example, studies show that over a third of patients with schizophrenia meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
- Cultural and social influences – Being exposed to alcohol at a young age increases the risk of developing alcoholism. In addition, peer pressure or having a partner, parent, or other role models who drink regularly can increase the risk.
There are several other factors that can influence alcohol use disorder, such as nutrition. Nutrition and alcohol interact in many different ways. Heavy use of alcohol often interferes with nutrition, while alcohol/nutrition interactions can impact gene expression.
More Risk Factors for Becoming an Alcoholic
Some common specific known risk factors that contribute to developing a drinking problem often include:
- Consuming more than 15 drinks a week for men or 12 drinks a week for women
- Binge drinking (intake of more than 5 drinks in a 2-hour period for men or 4 or more drinks in a 2-hour period for women)
- Having a mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
- High levels of stress
- Peer pressure
- Low self-esteem or self-worth
- Having a biological family member with drug addiction or alcohol use disorder
- Residing in a family or culture where alcohol use is common and accepted.
43 percent of people in the US have been affected by a family member with alcohol use disorder. And one-third of people have a mental illness and alcohol use disorder. Many people do recover from alcoholism, but setbacks are common. Getting help early can prevent an alcoholic from having problems with relapses.
Recovery from Alcoholism is Here
Evoke Wellness Coconut Creek is a premier treatment facility committed to providing the best care for anyone battling drug and alcohol addiction. Our top priority is your safety and comfort, and life in sobriety is our primary mission. Our team of professionals is some of the most experienced, compassionate, non-judgmental, and understanding people in the addiction field. We will treat you with the kindness and respect you deserve and help you start healing and moving forward on your path to long-term recovery. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says the following about the disease of alcoholism:
People with severe AUD may need medical help to avoid alcohol withdrawal if they decide to stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening process that can occur when someone who has been drinking heavily for a prolonged period of time suddenly stops drinking. Doctors can prescribe medications to address these symptoms and make the process safer and less distressing. (NIAAA)
Help is available at our Evoke Wellness facility in Coconut Creek, Florida, where seasoned addiction professionals guide men and women to lasting sobriety every single day.