One of the questions we are often asked here at Middlegate is ‘what starts alcohol addiction?’. There is no defining answer to this question as alcohol is one of the most widely used substances in the UK; nonetheless, most people who drink it do so in moderation. Moderate drinking is said to be relatively safe, but new guidelines issued by the UK Government in January 2016 stated that there is actually no safe level of alcohol consumption in terms of preventing various health problems and some illnesses, such as cancer. It is recommended that UK adults drink no more than fourteen units of alcohol per week, with a few days kept alcohol-free. Regularly drinking more than this is dangerous to both mental and physical health and could result in other lifestyle problems while increasing the risk of alcohol addiction.
But What Actually Causes Alcohol Addiction?
It is important to remember that alcohol is a commonly abused substance, but not everyone who abuses it will go on to develop an alcohol addiction. Those who drink more than their body can process, which is typically one unit per hour, will find themselves intoxicated. This can be classed as alcohol abuse, but it does not mean the person has an addiction.
Those who do go on to develop an alcohol addiction will lose control over their drinking. The individual in question may find that once he or she starts drinking, they are unable to stop. The affected person will also find it near on impossible to quit, even knowing that to continue drinking will cause negative consequences in their own life as well as in the lives of loved ones and friends.
With that in mind, it is important to ask the question of what starts alcohol addiction. Why do some people become addicted to alcohol while others do not? This is a question for which there is no single answer. The truth is that there are several factors that make alcohol addiction more likely for some rather than for others. Some of these can include:
- Family History of Addiction – Genes play a significant role in increasing the likelihood of a person developing an addiction. In fact, a person is four times more likely to be affected by alcohol addiction if a biological parent is an alcoholic than those who live with non-alcoholic parents.
- Environment – The environment in which a person grows up can also play a role in determining if he or she will develop an addiction. Experiences that an individual has had can affect the risk. Relationships, family life, peer pressure, quality of life, stress, and socio-economic status all play a role in whether addiction is likely or not.
- Traumatic Experiences – The more trauma a person has experienced, the more likely he or she will be to turn to alcohol for relief. Traumatic experiences that can increase the risk of addiction include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, being bullied, domestic violence, witnessing an accident or combat, losing a loved one, or living with a parent who is mentally ill. The risk of addiction increases depending on the number of traumatic experiences the person has had.
- Mental Health Problems – There is a strong link between mental health problems and addiction. Those with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression often turn to alcohol to help them cope. Mental health problems can also be a side effect of substance abuse.
- Early Exposure to Alcohol – Living in a home where alcohol consumption is considered normal can have an impact on whether an individual will go on to develop an addiction or not. If a parent(s) has a relaxed attitude to underage drinking, it could mean the individual begins drinking at a young age, which is said to be a contributing factor in the development of addiction in later life.
While the above are all contributing factors in the development of alcohol addiction, they are certainly not a guarantee. In fact, there are some people who will have all the above and still not go on to suffer addiction. Likewise, some individuals will not have one single risk factor but will still become alcoholics.
Could You Have an Alcohol Addiction?
It is not possible to diagnose an alcohol addiction with a blood test or any other physical examination. The only way to tell if a person is an alcoholic is to take a good look at his or her drinking habits. It is usually the case that the individual with the addiction will not realise that he or she has a problem initially. Many alcoholics will be in denial about their drinking because they are not ready to accept the fact that help is needed to deal with the issue.
If you have concerns for yourself or someone you love, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. For example, if you have been drinking more than you used to in order to achieve the desired effects, it could be that your body has developed an increased tolerance to alcohol. This basically means that your body has adapted to the presence of this chemical substance and you will need more alcohol to achieve the same pleasure you used to get from it.
Think about your other habits such as whether you feel guilty about drinking or not or if you have been trying to hide your alcohol consumption from loved ones. These are classic signs of problem drinking and should be addressed as soon as possible. Likewise, if you have been getting drunk regularly and waking up with little or no memory of the night before, you should consider getting help before things spiral out of control.
Alcoholism is an illness that will continue to worsen without treatment. There are some who do manage to quit on their own, but those with a physical dependence on alcohol will find it difficult to quit without help. For more information on how you can overcome an alcohol addiction, contact us here at Middlegate.
We are a free referral service working hard to help those affected by all types of addiction. By getting in touch with us today, you can forget about the hassle of trying to find the most suitable rehab provider for your needs. We will take care of this for you and will provide you with helpful advice and information on the recovery process. If you want to move on to recovery or simply want someone to talk to, contact us today.