What Causes Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a health condition that can be influenced by a range of factors. There are countless risks associated with this kind of substance abuse, but inpatient or outpatient treatment may help reduce these risks.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious disorder that affects millions of people in the U.S.

Though AUD has become increasingly common, the cause of alcohol dependence varies greatly. Test

Causes Of An Alcohol Addiction

The causes of alcohol addiction are dependent on many factors, including genetic components, mental illness, and lifestyle.

Physical Causes Of Alcohol Addiction

Physical elements that may alter your risk of alcohol addiction include various genetic factors.

Just like other illnesses and health risks that can be passed down genetically, it is possible to inherit an increased risk of alcohol addiction.

In addition to genes, biological components can also make it more likely that you develop a drinking problem.

For instance, men are more likely to become addicted to alcohol due to a high risk of binge drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It’s also important to note the difference between a physical reliance on alcohol and mental reliance. Physical reliance is yet another physical factor that can cause alcohol addiction.

When your body starts to depend on the chemicals found in alcohol, it becomes increasingly difficult to function without the substance.

This kind of reliance can lead to alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking, which can encourage a relapse.

Environmental Factors That Influence Alcohol Addiction

While physical components may increase your risk of alcohol addiction, environmental factors can also play a large role in the development of this disease.

Environmental elements that can influence alcohol abuse include:

  • family history
  • exposure to alcohol abuse
  • drinking at an early age
  • peer pressure to drink

Research has shown that your likelihood of developing alcohol addiction can be influenced by what you’re exposed to during childhood, particularly your parents’ drinking habits.

According to Harvard Health, children and young adults whose parents struggle with alcohol abuse are four times more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol.

Mental Health Risks That Affect Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can also be caused by a mental reliance on the substance. There are a variety of mental health risk factors that may influence your drinking patterns.

Relevant mental health conditions include:

  • a history of trauma
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • schizophrenia
  • attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • bipolar disorder

Though these elements may lead to alcohol addiction, it is important to separate mental reliance from physical reliance when it comes to alcohol abuse.

Unlike physical reliance on alcohol, mental reliance is not typically associated with withdrawal symptoms. This is because alcohol is used to reduce an emotion or thought rather than a physical reaction.

Signs Of An Alcohol Addiction

If you’re worried that you or a loved one have an alcohol misuse problem, there are a few signs you can look out for.

Signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • an increase in the amount of alcohol consumed
  • an increased frequency of alcohol consumption
  • drinking more than you planned to
  • craving alcohol
  • drinking alone frequently
  • blackouts or becoming unconscious
  • personality changes
  • alcohol withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, headaches, tremors, or hallucinations

Alcohol addiction may become more obvious the more severe it becomes, so signs of alcohol abuse may be subtle at first.

Dangers Of Alcohol Addiction

Much like other substance use disorders, AUD is associated with a wide variety of dangers and health problems, both long-term and short-term.

Dangers of heavy drinking may involve:

While you can pose dangers to your own body when you abuse alcohol, you can also put others at risk based on the decisions you make due to the effects of alcohol.

Treatment Options For Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a serious matter, but there are plenty of treatment options that may help you reduce your dependence on alcohol.

Located in Canton, MA, Bedrock Recovery Center is a highly rated rehabilitation center with a variety of treatment programs available.

Treatment for alcohol abuse may include:

  • alcohol detoxification
  • inpatient treatment
  • use of medication (disulfiram, naltrexone, acamprosate) to decrease the effects of withdrawal

In addition to reducing your reliance on alcohol, addiction treatment at Bedrock Recovery Center can also help you cope with mental health struggles through healthier habits.

You can join support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to discuss your struggles with others who have also dealt with alcohol dependence.

Find Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Alcohol addiction can affect people of all ages. Call our helpline at Bedrock Recovery Center today if you or a family member need help with treatment for alcohol use.

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Men’s Health https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/mens-health.htm
  2. Harvard Health — Alcohol Abuse https://www.health.harvard.edu/addiction/alcohol-abuse
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alcohol Use Disorder https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaud.html
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) — Alcohol Facts and Statistics https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
  5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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