Finding out someone you love is struggling with alcoholism can be shocking. However, alcoholism does not happen overnight. There are many reasons why people turn to alcohol to cope with their problems. Understanding alcoholism can help bring an understanding of how to treat this disease.
If an individual has a family with a history of alcohol abuse, developing an alcohol use disorder is higher. The greater risk with family history is often due to genetic factors. Scientists estimate that 40-60% of a person’s vulnerability to alcoholism is due to these genetic factors.
If a person has experienced trauma, they are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use may occur to help cope with trauma-related symptoms. Trauma can be physical, emotional, mental or medical. One-time events, ongoing stress and even having surgery can cause trauma.
If an individual is surrounded by people who consume alcohol regularly, especially in large amounts, their likelihood of drinking increases. This is especially true in today’s drinking culture, as alcohol is everywhere. Movies, songs, and TV shows show people getting drunk regularly, indicating that binge drinking is OK. Peer pressure also plays a role. People are more likely to drink if their friends or family are pressuring them to do so.
Individuals who begin drinking alcohol at an early age are more at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. A young person’s brain is not fully developed, and heavy alcohol consumption can cause brain changes as it is forming.
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