Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties. It is a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. Harvard Health explains that “alcohol directly influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. It affects levels of lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and insulin in the blood, as well as inflammation and coagulation. It also alters mood, concentration, and coordination.” When an individual drinks alcohol, it enters his or her bloodstream immediately and reaches the brain within five minutes of consumption. The half-life, meaning the length of time the substance will remain in one’s system until the concentration in one’s blood has been reduced by half, of alcohol is four to five hours.
Alcohol Addiction Risk Factors
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is a medical condition that according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is characterized by “an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” Alcohol use disorder is a complex disease involving physical and psychological changes that occur with consistent alcohol use. Still, the precise cause of alcoholism remains unknown. There are, however, several risk factors that have been reported as potentially playing a role in increasing one’s susceptibility to alcoholism, some of which include:
- Biological factors: Research has found a close link between genetics/ physiology and alcoholism. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry assert that children of alcoholics are four times more likely than others to become alcoholics themselves.
- Environmental factors: People exposed to heavy alcohol consumption at a young age may be more likely to develop alcohol use disorder than those who are not. Research suggests that those who begin drinking in the early to mid-teen years are more likely to develop problems with alcohol.
- Social factors: Social situations where alcohol consumption is encouraged and/ or widely acceptable essentially provides an individual with permission to engage in unhealthy drinking. Further, factors such as the availability of alcohol, peer pressure, social class, and any kind of abuse can play a role in the development of alcohol addiction.
- Psychological factors: Individuals who suffer from other mental health conditions are more likely to abuse alcohol, and certain mental health disorders are common among people with an alcohol use disorder. Studies have also found that stress is closely linked with increased alcohol consumption, and increased alcohol consumption is closely linked to developing alcohol use disorder.
Nearly 13.9% of people in the United States will meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder in their lifetimes.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at email@example.com