The causes of alcoholism have long been debated with the feeling that if we could find the cause we could find a cure.
Over the years, however, there is not one constant that can lead to a specific cause but rather multiple factors that contribute to an individual’s propensity to develop into an alcoholic.
- One theory that is being researched is the biological/genetic predisposition for alcoholism. This research, at best, is controversial. Some studies have shown that adopted children with biological parents that are alcoholic have an increased risk.
- Studies have also implicated a D2 dopamine receptor gene that may increase a person’s risk for alcoholism. But there are so many other factors to consider that it is difficult to determine the specific causes for alcoholism.
- Genetics do impact one’s predisposition in that people with an imbalance of brain chemicals may cause them to be more vulnerable to this disease.
- Social factors are undeniably a key factor in this problem as well. Elements such as influence of friends and family, advertising and the ease of access to alcohol are all things to be taken into consideration.
- People who are under abnormal stress levels may also use alcohol to “de-stress”, particularly if they don’t have other coping mechanisms in place. Alcohol provides a social outlet and often drinkers join together for the feelings of togetherness.
- Some people suggest that alcohol is “God in a bottle” because when you are drinking you temporarily remove the guilt and inferiority that many alcoholics suffer with. Alcohol becomes a social stimulus and as the individual feels a greater need to satisfy this the greater the problem becomes.
- Ultimately one of the greatest causes for alcoholism is the physical addition that develops from this drug. Alcohol actually alters some of the brain’s chemicals that are responsible for controlling impulsive behaviours as well as the ones that excite the nervous system.
- In addition, dopamine levels are raised. Dopamine is a chemical that is associated with pleasure. Long-term alcohol use can cause glitches in the body where it must be satisfied with alcohol.
- One factor to consider in the causes of alcoholism is a person’s emotional state (if you are stressed out are you drinking to block out the stress?).
- Other big reasons are psychological factors (such as someone dealing with depression). Social and cultural ideals also perpetuate the problem. Movies and other media portray drinking as glamorous but fail to show the crash that happens when it controls your life.
If you are suffering from any signs of alcoholism I urge you to seek help. This is not a problem many people can beat by themselves and there are many resources available to help you beat this disease.
If someone you know is at risk from any of these causes of alcoholism find ways to encourage them to get help. One way is by not confronting them with their current negative behaviour but by discussing with them the possibilities of a brighter future.
This is less likely to get the ‘shutters going up’ that you will often experience if you confront someone with what you don’t like about what they’re currently doing.