With over 15 million U.S. adults reporting some level of alcohol use disorder (AUD), it’s no secret that alcoholism is a serious and widespread problem. Despite this, for both people struggling with alcohol dependency and their families, it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific cause. Critically, the first step toward recovery is understanding the intertwined variables and risks lurking behind alcoholism. Of course, every individual is different, but if you’ve ever wondered what causes alcoholism, we hope this post can provide some insight.
Part of what makes alcoholism so difficult to understand is the multi-layered nature of what causes alcoholism. Rather than just the result of one single event or trait, alcoholism is rooted in the interaction of social, mental, and biological factors:
- Social. Alcohol use can often begin as a social activity, especially when peers, friends, and family members also engage in drinking behaviors.
- Mental. Many alcoholics also struggle with mental health issues. Feelings of low self-esteem, impulsiveness, and anxiety can all lead to problematic drinking behaviors. According to some research, nearly 40 percent of alcoholics report being diagnosed with some form of mental illness.
- Biological. Though a family history of alcoholism does not guarantee future problems, it can play a significant role. Early research has shown the presence of certain genes that predispose individuals to addictive behaviors.
Apart from the underlying risk factors related to alcoholism, there is also a consensus on certain behaviors that may demonstrate alcoholic tendencies or the existence of early stage alcoholism. In large part, these behaviors and lifestyle conditions may go unnoticed until a more severe form of alcoholism develops.
Some of the earliest warning signs and indicators of alcoholism include:
- High Stress Levels. Stress at work or in the home can leave individuals desperate for relief. Drinking as a means of stress relief can lead to extreme alcoholism if left unchecked.
- Early Exposure To Alcohol. Youthful experimentation with alcohol, including binge drinking, can greatly increase the risk of alcoholism. What begins as “age-related” use can become a truly unmanageable problem.
- Peer Pressure. Related to the social factor of alcoholism, unhealthy drinking habits can begin as method of blending into a peer group of co-workers, classmates, team members etc.
One of the most important thing to remember about the initial causes of alcoholism is their slow progression. A few drinks after work or with friends can sometimes lead to more serious problems down the road.
Start The Recovery Journey
According to the Mayo Clinic, alcoholism and even moderate alcohol abuse can lead to serious health problems including liver disease, heart failure, and neurological handicaps. The added damage to personal mental health and daily function makes alcoholism a truly debilitating disease unto itself. But recovery and growth are possible.
If you are struggling to stay clean and sober, a sober living environment may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation offers men’s sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.