Alcoholism goes by several names, including alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, and alcohol use disorder. Recently, it’s been diagnosed as a disease that happens when someone drinks so much that their bodies become addicted to consuming alcohol. It becomes a craving they can’t shake off, no matter how much they drink.
Then, the more they drink, the more they’re affected by it because it causes chemical changes in the brain. These changes make you feel intense pleasure whenever you get a drink.
This acute sense of pleasure makes them drink more often, regardless of the harm it causes. As a result, people who suffer from alcoholism will keep drinking even if it means destroying relationships or losing their jobs. Still, it’s not enough to make them stop drinking.
Even though the exact cause is still unknown, certain risk factors for alcoholism can increase a person’s risk of developing this disorder.
Take a look.
5 Risk Factors for Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a complex disorder with many underlying causes. Therefore, the factors that impact one person can be different for someone else. The factors that can increase the risk for alcoholism are called ‘risk factors.’
Still, you can have one or more of these risk factors and still not develop a drinking problem. Yet, it does make you more susceptible. So, it pays to be extra careful when you’re around alcohol.
Below is a list of the five most common risk factors of this debilitating disease, commonly referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Mental Health Problems
According to several studies, anyone suffering from a mental health issue is more at risk for developing any type of addiction, including alcoholism. And it’s not just related to alcohol; it can also be an addiction to drugs, opioids, cigarettes, and even food.
A Close Relative with Alcoholism
If one of your parents, siblings, or another close relative has alcoholism, this can increase the risk of developing AUD yourself.
The main reason is the person’s influence on your genetic make-up. Studies show that there are specific genes that react differently to alcohol than others and may even be more vulnerable to its effects.
A second important reason is an alcoholic relative can affect your environment. Whether you realize it or not, growing up around alcoholics can determine whether or not you’ll decide to be swayed to alcohol use later in life.
Binge drinking is when a person drinks excessively in a short amount of time.
For men, this is in the range of having more than five drinks in one sitting. As for women, it’s about four or more drinks.
This type of risk factor is more common in young adults between the ages of 18 to 34. Coincidently, this is the time when college students are dealing with the pressures of school. Then, they graduate and have to deal with the responsibilities of balancing work and life.
Nevertheless, many people over the age of 34 are also binge drinkers. It happens more often when they’re in an uncomfortable setting and feel an urge to ease their anxiety so they can relax and have a good time.
Exceed the Average Weekly Limit
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adult men of the legal drinking age can have two drinks or less per day. For women, it’s one drink or less in a day.
Alternatively, men who drink 14 or more drinks per week, or more than five drinks per day, are at a higher risk of suffering alcohol use disorder.
At the same time, women who drink more than 7 drinks per week are also more liable to suffer from alcoholism.
The number of drinks varies from men and women because of the difference in their body composition. It also takes into account how they metabolize food, with women being more vulnerable to the adverse effects of alcoholic beverages than men.
Stress is a common risk factor for many addictive substances, as well as dozens of mental and physical health disorders, including alcohol use. Research shows that many cases of alcoholism stem from a high-stress situation related to school, work, money, or relationships.
Alcohol acts as a sedative. So, when you’re overly stressed, alcohol becomes the only way to handle your negative emotions, allowing you to de-stress and take your mind off your problems.
Yet, if left unchecked, excessive drinking quickly turns into an addiction. And all those feelings stay bottled up, leading to more serious mental health issues, such as the ones mentioned above.
To Sum Up
If you, or anyone you know, has one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll lead to alcoholism. Yet, it does mean you have to be extra careful anytime alcohol is being served. For example, start by making a conscious choice to limit your alcohol intake.
However, if you suspect that you have a drinking problem, then it might be time to seek treatment. There are numerous treatments to choose from, but all are designed with one aim in mind: to help you take your first step towards a better tomorrow.