What Is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependency and alcohol use disorder, is a disease that makes the body dependent on alcohol. The term “alcoholism” is often used interchangeably with the term “alcohol abuse,” but the former is actually much more serious than the latter. When someone is dealing with alcohol abuse, they are beginning to build a higher tolerance to alcohol. Alcohol abuse typically leads to alcoholism. An individual with alcoholism drinks so heavily and frequently that they need alcohol to get through every day. Since alcoholism can lead to severe health issues and complications, it’s important to know the signs in yourself or a loved one.
Signs of Alcoholism
The signs of alcoholism may vary for every individual who has this disorder. However, there are some tell-tale signs that may determine if someone has developed alcoholism. They include:
- Drinking alcohol very often
- Lying about when/how often you drink
- Having an increased alcohol tolerance
- Experiencing memory loss or lapses
- Tremors and bodily shaking
- Having issues at work and school
- Having a strong craving or desire to drink
- Drinking in secret or drinking alone
- Inability to control consumption of alcohol
- Neglecting routines like eating and practicing personal hygiene
So how and why do these signs begin? That has a lot to do with the combination of alcoholism risk factors that may affect an individual.
Alcoholism Risk Factors
Alcoholism can be influenced by a variety of environmental, societal, and genetic factors. Someone who experiences the following issues during youth, adolescence, or adulthood may be at a higher risk for developing alcoholism:
- Aggressive behavior during childhood
- Poor social skills during childhood
- History of mental illnesses like depression
- Experimenting with alcohol at a young age
- Lack of parental supervision
- Access to alcohol
- High stress levels
- Being in poverty
- Peer pressure
- Self esteem issues
- Having a close relative with alcoholism
A majority of the factors above are environmental or social. So where do genetics fit into one’s predisposition for alcoholism and addiction?
Is Alcoholism Hereditary?
Genetics do play a role in alcoholism and may predispose individuals to the disorder. The closer someone’s familial relationship is to an individual who has alcoholism, the more likely they are to develop it. Parents, for example, are very likely to pass a predisposition to alcoholism down to their children. While having a parent with alcoholism doesn’t guarantee that you will get it, having a genetic disposition does put you at a higher risk.
How to Avoid Alcoholism
If alcoholism runs in your family, there are many ways to prevent developing the disorder. Below are some ways to avoid alcoholism when it runs in the family:
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Manage stress in a constructive way
- Seek family counseling
- Maintain healthy relationships
- Educate yourself about your family’s history with alcoholism
- Notify your healthcare providers about any family history
Unfortunately, it is sometimes too late to prevent alcoholism. But it’s never too late to get help and be on your way to a happier and healthier life.
If you believe that you or a loved one may have alcoholism, talk to your healthcare provider. It is important to understand the disorder and get support from people who understand it. Some treatment methods of alcoholism include inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, certain medications, support groups, and more.
To learn more about genetics and alcoholism, contact our team of substance abuse professionals by giving us a call at 267.719.8689.