If you or someone you love has battled alcoholism, you may have spent hours trying to figure out what causes someone to develop alcoholism. Is it a persistent string of bad luck? Does a family history of alcoholism point to a never-ending cycle of abuse?
With so many possible reasons behind it, there isn’t one universal truth that can apply to every situation. However, by looking at the different potential underlying issues, we can better understand what causes someone to develop alcoholism.
How Does Our Brain Become Addicted in the First Place?
Whether it’s a drug or alcohol addiction, you must first understand how the substance affects your brain before looking at the other factors that can potentially cause alcoholism. When a person consumes an alcoholic beverage, it starts a chemical process in the brain, producing pleasurable feelings and blunting negative ones.
As alcohol continues to produce these chemical reactions, a person may be more likely to continue drinking to keep these feelings coming. Finally, however, we develop a tolerance to the effects and require more alcohol to feel the same. So, while problem drinking and alcoholism are two different issues, the reasons behind them are similar.
When Does a Drinking Problem Become Alcoholism?
People may recognize they have a drinking problem and quit with relative ease. They take themselves out of these stressful situations and can undergo extended periods of sobriety without feeling tempted. However, people with alcoholism don’t have this luxury. They have developed a physical dependence on alcohol to function properly throughout their daily life.
People with alcoholism have become dependent on having multiple drinks per day to survive. Withdrawal symptoms can develop within as little as eight hours after their last beverage. As people continue drinking and figuring out where their breaking point lies, knowing what contributes to developing their problem can help their recovery. Here are some of the possible causes of why people develop alcoholism.
Family History and Genetic Predisposition
It’s still challenging to determine how much of a role genetics plays in people developing alcoholism. Still, it does appear to tie into one area that seems to play a significant role — family history. Growing up in an environment where someone with alcohol use disorder has a visible part can help normalize the behavior in impressionable youth. As they continue to get exposure, these children accept that this kind of heavy drinking is typical. Then, as they continue to mature, they can take this part of their upbringing with them and develop an addiction of their own.
Whether it’s a case of nature versus nurture is still being played out in studies. Still, whether it’s because a person has a genetic predisposition to an addictive personality or they have had disordered alcohol use normalized, it remains a critical potential cause for someone developing alcoholism in their lifetime.
Many people view alcohol as a social lubricant — a quick and reliable way to loosen themselves up before a night out with friends. So if someone feels like they need a few drinks to feel more relaxed, it often doesn’t portend to an alcohol use disorder. However, if those two drinks slowly begin to increase over time, it may be a sign of a more serious issue.
If the person in question has low self-esteem, impulsiveness, and a need for social acceptance, they can use their drinking to cope with these feelings. Alcohol can seemingly help boost their self-esteem and act as a way to gain the validation of their peers. The more they seek this external validation, the more likely they fall into disordered drinking behaviors.
A significant component of the human experience is the breadth of emotions we experience daily. These can range from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and everything in between. Most people have coping mechanisms that enable them to process these emotions in a healthy and productive manner. However, if someone has turned to alcohol to help them process these emotions, it could quickly spiral into alcoholism.
When someone uses alcohol to manage these emotions, they can numb the pain for a little while, but it doesn’t provide a lasting solution. They must continue drinking to avoid the emotional turmoil, which can quickly lead them down a self-destructive path.
Enroll in an Alcohol Treatment Program in Mahanoy City, PA, Today
Now that you know some potential causes of someone developing alcoholism, you can figure out the best ways to get help. Having a solid support system behind you can help make the recovery journey easier and help pick you up when you need it the most. Our alcohol addiction rehab programs in Mahanoy City, PA, have helped countless people figure out how to get on their road to recovery.