Alcohol abuse is a global growing concern among nations. The cause for this disorder can’t be rooted to one single factor. In reality, several things affect one’s tendency to drink and develop dependence. There’s one known model, the
of addiction which tells that factors contributing to addictive behavior can be grouped into four categories: biological, psychological, socio-cultural, and spiritual factors.
Consequently, the huge number of factors influencing one’s chance of developing alcohol use disorder makes it impossible to pinpoint which one has a greater impact on that person. The only thing controllable regarding this issue is one’s personality and discipline towards drinking alcohol.
Internal and External Factors
Aside from the Biopsychological Model of Addiction, factors contributing to alcohol abuse can simply be grouped into two: internal and external factors.
Internal factors contributing to alcoholism include genetic makeup, psychological aspects like personality and preference, and drinking history of the person. Meanwhile, external factors include friends, family, norms, religion, education and work environment.
Several studies have supported the claim where the genetic trait of a person influences his likelihood for alcohol abuse. These medical findings support the result of a 40 to 60% chance of getting the disorder through genes or heredity.
Here are some of the evidences supporting this claim:
- The chance of developing alcohol dependence for individuals with alcoholic relatives is fourfold.
- Alcohol-dependent subjects with identical twins have a higher risk of alcohol abuse compared to fraternal twins or full siblings.
- Adopted children by alcoholic parents show the same likelihood of getting this disorder with their natural offsprings.
Psychological factors refer to the mental health status and behavior of an individual that may cause the development of his alcohol use disorder. Most studies have reported that people diagnosed with psychological disorders have higher chances of progressing towards alcohol abuse. Some of these mental illnesses associated with alcoholism include anxiety and bipolar disorder, depression, personality disorder, stress, and substance dependence.
Approximately 30 to 40 percent of people with alcohol use disorder are also suffering from major depression. This depression condition can already be existing before alcohol abuse or it could be an alcohol-induced condition.
Around 60 percent of alcoholics, mostly men, experience alcohol-induced mood disorder due to the mood-altering effect of alcohol. Whereas the remaining 40 percent are motivated by an unrelated state of depression.
This mental illness has the second highest incidence of alcohol abuse. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder accounts for 50 to 60 percent of the population suffering from alcoholism. Patients with this mental illness have higher chances of abusing other substances aside from alcohol.
This mental disorder has the least incidence of developing alcoholism. It only accounts for 19.4 percent of the total population of alcoholics while the remaining portion is an independent anxiety disorder without cases of alcohol use disorder.
People who have experienced traumatic events regardless of any stages in life have higher chances of resorting to alcohol drinking as a means of coping. In fact, most alcohol dependence and mental illnesses are rooted in early-childhood trauma.
In a study conducted, it was found out that childhood sexual abuse contributed to the high risk of alcoholism and drug abuse. In relation to this, there was a 7.2 fold increase for alcoholism progression while a 4.5 fold increase for drug abuse.
In the United States, the two most visited social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter. Social media motivates alcohol drinking behavior among adolescents and young adults through the various alcohol-related content posted on the site. These online platforms reach millions of users and expose them to the risk of progressing alcohol drinking behaviors.
Stress can be rooted from work, family, friends or practically anything. Most people think that drinking could alleviate the burdens of stress. Technically, the “coping mechanism” experienced from alcohol beverages is due to the depressing effect of the substance to the brain which gives that relaxation state.
However, the relieving effect of alcohol is not totally applicable to all people for some have allergic reactions to it.
Peer pressure is one major factor contributing to underage drinking in most societies. Teenagers want to have that feeling of “belongingness” and independence and they think drinking is a bold way of showing it. Likewise, excitement and peer pressure usually happen in social events where there’s social and binge drinking. These things eventually increase the risk of underage drinking and alcohol dependence.
Level of Education
The level of education attained by a person affects the chances of progressing to alcohol use disorder. In general, individuals who have attained a higher educational degree have a lesser chance of developing alcohol abuse.
Most people who failed to finish high school have 6.3 times the likelihood of developing alcoholism compared to those who reached college. Meanwhile, those who were not able to finish college are 3.01 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse compared to others who got a degree.
The nature of the job of a person affects the chances of drinking. Several factors can be associated with it but the greatest contributor is the amount of work-related stress for that job position. Some stressful jobs with high drinking rates include lawyers, transportation workers, doctors, architects, and protective security agents.
In contrast, some jobs that don’t have much stress like being a bartender show a huge risk of being an alcoholic because of the availability of drinks and the likelihood to mingle with others through drinking and eating.
Spiritual factors refer to the core beliefs, values, and purpose of living for an individual. Most alcoholics show no regard for one’s well-being. They no longer maintain proper hygiene and a healthy lifestyle because they have lost their sense of direction in life. On the other hand, strong value and religious belief structure often help a person resist alcohol cravings and dependence.