According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is a significant cause of death in the U.S. More than 95,000 people die every year due to alcohol-related causes.

Alcoholism is a disease referred to as alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, and alcohol use disorder. 

Alcoholism is drinking so much alcohol that the body becomes addicted, triggering unbearable cravings that don’t go away no matter how much alcohol one drinks.  

But the good news is that people can and do overcome Alcoholism every day.

The more alcohol a person drinks, the more they’re affected because it causes chemical changes in the brain. It’s a miserable situation because those chemical changes trigger intense feelings of pleasure when they drink, which drives them to drink more often, even when they know it’s hurting their health, job, and relationships. 

Many people suffering from Alcoholism want to quit – they even vow and crave to quit – but it’s tough because the addiction is so strong.

Although the exact cause of Alcoholism is still unknown, certain risk factors increase one’s risk of developing an addiction to alcohol.

5 Risk Factors of Alcoholism

What causes alcohol addiction differs from person to person because of the many underlying causes of this complex disorder. Certain risk factors increase one’s chances of developing Alcoholism.

Although having one or more of the following risk factors doesn’t guarantee that you will develop a drinking problem, it makes you more susceptible. These are the five most common risk factors of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues increase risk of addiction, not just to alcohol but also to recreational or prescribed drugs, smoking, and food, to name a few.

A Family Member with Alcoholism

Having a close relative with Alcoholism increases one’s risk of alcohol use disorder because of hereditary and environmental factors. 

Studies reveal that specific genes might be more vulnerable to alcohol and react differently to its effects than others. 

Being raised around alcoholics can influence whether you’ll turn to alcohol later in life.

Binge Drinking

We’ve all heard of binge drinking but might not know what it is; it differs whether you’re a man or a woman.

Binge drinking for a man is consuming more than five drinks in one sitting. For a woman, it’s four or more drinks. 

This risk factor is most common in people ages 18 to 34 when significant changes and transitions are underway as one goes from college to starting a career and family.

However, there are binge drinkers of all ages. 

Binge drinking occurs most frequently for those who find themselves in a difficult situation and choose to use alcohol to cope with their anxiety; they want to forget about the cares of life for a short while to relax and have a good time.

Exceeding the Average Weekly “Limit”

Although it’s the position of Lifestyle Magazine that refraining from alcohol consumption is the healthiest choice, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adult men of legal drinking age who choose to drink should limit themselves to two drinks or less per day. For women, it’s one or less per day.

Unsurprisingly, men who drink 14 or more drinks per week, or more than five drinks daily, are at significant risk for alcohol use disorder. For women, it’s more than seven drinks per week.

Why does the number of drinks vary from men to women? Because of the difference in body composition. Another factor is how they metabolize food, making women more susceptible to the ill effects of alcohol consumption than men.

High Stress

As you might guess, high stress levels are associated with all kinds of addictions. Stress is also related to mental and physical health disorders, including alcohol use. 

Various forms of severe stress, such as school, career, financial, and relational, are associated with Alcoholism. 

People who are highly stressed often use alcohol to cope with their negative emotions because it takes their minds off their problems, making them feel as if they are de-stressing due to alcohol’s sedative nature. 

Using alcohol as a coping mechanism is dangerous because excessive drinking quickly becomes an addiction. 

There’s Hope

Just because you might be experiencing one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of Alcoholism. However, perhaps you should consider what role, if any, alcohol has in your life. At the very least, please consider intentionally limiting your alcohol intake should you choose to drink. 

But, if you think you might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder or are heading in that direction, consider seeking treatment. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom and strength. After all, you deserve to unlock your best life so you can have a better life tomorrow, starting today. 

Photo by Anna Bratiychuk on Unsplash

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