There’s a common misconception about alcohol that it’s somehow safer than other addictive substances just because it’s legal. But alcohol consumption still carries a high risk of addiction and part of the reason is that it’s legal and so widely available. Like all types of addiction, alcoholism can be extremely dangerous and can cause several negative problems as time goes on. Addiction to alcohol is more commonly referred to as alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), and as of 2019, around 14.5 million American adults reported that they struggle with this disease. But how does it come to occur? What causes some people to become alcoholics while others don’t? This article will discuss some of the leading causes of alcoholism in New Hampshire along with the causes and treatment options for you and your loved ones.
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What is Alcoholism/Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic and progressive disease that is characterized by a strong urge to drink alcohol, despite the negative consequences. Drinking excessively can lead to problems with work, school, relationships, and health. Alcoholism can also cause financial difficulties and legal problems. In severe cases, it can even lead to death. Alcoholism can be a serious problem as time goes on, regardless of how a person may develop it. There are many factors that can also contribute to a person’s urge to drink excessively frequently. Alcoholism and alcohol use disorder should be treated under the guidance of professionals like our team at Live Free Recovery.
Signs of Alcoholism/AUD
The signs of alcoholism can vary depending on the individual. However, there are some common signs that may indicate a problem with alcohol. These include:
- Drinking more than intended
- Having trouble cutting down on drinking
- Giving up important activities in order to drink
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking (nausea, headaches, anxiety, etc.)
- Worsened performance at school, work, or home life
- Intensive cravings to drink alcohol
- Continuing to abuse alcohol even if it is causing problems/negative effects
- Wanting to stop alcohol use but being unable to
- Building a tolerance to alcohol intake (requiring more for desired effects)
If you or someone you know is displaying these signs, it’s important to get help. Alcoholism is a serious disease that can have devastating consequences. There are many resources available to those struggling with the disease, including Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups. There are also treatment options available at Live Free Recovery, such as detoxification and rehabilitation programs.
Understanding What Causes Someone to Become an Alcoholic
So what causes someone to become an alcoholic? There are several risk factors that can contribute to the development of alcoholism, including genetics, mental health disorders, social environment, and stress. Some people are more susceptible to alcoholism than others due to genetic factors, others become a victim of their environment. Whatever the case may be, there are many factors that can contribute to someone’s alcohol use. It is important to seek help if you or a loved one is dealing with alcoholism/alcohol use disorder. Let’s take a look at some of the common factors that may lead to alcoholism.
If you’ve ever heard someone say, “alcoholism runs in my family,” you may not have taken it seriously. Believe it or not, though, some people get their risk for alcoholism and other addiction naturally — through their genes. If you have a family history of alcoholism, you are more likely to develop the disease yourself. This is because there is a certain genetic predisposition that can be passed down from generation to generation. Research has proven that if you have a parent or close family member who struggles with alcohol use disorder, your risk for alcoholism will be higher than average. This makes it extra important to monitor your drinking habits closely because alcoholism can develop without you noticing if you’re not careful.
If you suffer from stress, you may find that drinking helps you to cope with your symptoms. Drinking alcohol can help to relax you and make you feel less anxious. However, it is important to remember that this is only a temporary solution. In the long run, drinking alcohol will only make your stress and other conditions worse. Stress at work, school, or life, in general, can be a contributing factor to a person’s alcohol use. While it is common for people to take the ease of stress with alcohol, doing it frequently and habitually can end up leading to alcoholism and alcohol use disorder. Turning to alcohol for stress relief can end up leading to serious problems.
Using Alcohol at an Early Age
Studies have also shown that people who started drinking while they were underage are more likely to have negative consequences related to alcohol use later in life. Because the frontal lobe – the part of the brain that controls things like impulsiveness and common sense — is not fully developed in childhood and adolescence, the damage done by alcohol consumption can be significant. Social factors can also play a role in alcoholism. If you associate with people who drink heavily or use drugs, you are more likely to develop problems with alcohol yourself. Additionally, certain psychological factors can predispose someone to alcoholism. Often children who drugs and alcohol are more likely to get in legal trouble and less likely to finish their education, both additional risk factors for substance abuse in the future.
Risky Drinking Behavior
“Binge drinking”, or drinking a lot of alcohol in a single session, is something common in colleges across the U.S., which may present the belief that it’s harmless. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Frequent binge drinking can not only result in serious harm to the function of the brain but it’s also known to accelerate the development of alcoholism. Since New Hampshire is consistently ranked among the top 5 states nationally in binge drinking, this particular cause of alcoholism is something to be especially aware of. Constant binge drinking can end up creating dependence on alcohol, one that can eventually lead to addiction. When people get to this point, they may find it difficult to function with alcohol in their system.
People with mental illness are at higher risk for things like houselessness, poverty, and addiction — including alcoholism. Mental health disorders are also a risk factor for alcoholism. People with anxiety disorders, depression, or other mental health conditions are more likely to turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms. It’s not unusual for people with alcohol use disorder to also have other mental health disorders. These are known as co-occurring disorders, and it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. Alcoholism can worsen symptoms of mental health disorders and vice versa.
In addition to mental illnesses, people who have suffered serious trauma like the sudden loss of a loved one or a violent attack may turn to alcohol as a way to cope with their emotions. Trauma can be a big factor in why a person may turn to alcohol to self-medicate. This can become a habit and a stress coping mechanism, which can eventually lead to alcoholism or AUD. This is why we take special care to acknowledge co-occurring disorders in our approach to addiction treatment because sometimes, issues are caused by more than solely substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders can be especially problematic.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Treatment for alcoholism often includes therapy and medication. Therapy can help you understand your addiction and why you continue to drink despite the negative consequences. Medication can help reduce your cravings for alcohol and make it easier to abstain from drinking. If you have a co-occurring mental health disorder, treatment will also include treating that condition. Understanding what causes someone to become an alcoholic is just the first step toward a better life. At Live Free Recovery, we offer several treatment options for those dealing with alcoholism/AUD. Some of our treatment services include:
- Inpatient treatment
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Outpatient treatment
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Sober living program
You and your loved ones are not alone in your struggles, our trained staff will be by your side the whole way.
Get Help Before It’s Too Late
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, it may be more difficult to make the decision to get help, because alcohol is so widely available, legal, and accepted in our culture. But alcohol can still be dangerous — it may even cause lasting damage to your health — and if you’re not in control of your consumption, you need to get help as soon as possible.