It seems as if alcohol is synonymous with celebrations within our society. From commemorating an achievement to reveling in a personal accomplishment, the consumption of alcohol has established itself as an intricate part of most celebratory moments, big and small.
When a team wins a championship or someone receives a promotion at work: alcohol is usually part of the celebration. When a family celebrates a holiday: alcohol is usually part of the menu.
It is no wonder that 88,000 deaths a year are attributed to excessive alcohol consumption. Additionally, alcoholism is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States.
So, why is alcohol so addictive? And, perhaps an even bigger question, why do some individuals become addicted to alcohol while others simply use the substance occasionally or at will?
Are there genetic components to alcohol addiction? Can an alcohol use disorder be attributed to an individual’s environment and social influences?
Keep reading to learn about the addictive properties of alcohol and what makes some individuals more susceptible to developing a full-blown alcohol addiction.
Consuming alcohol has immediate effects on both the mind and body. It can cause an individual to experience a dramatic endorphin release within multiple sections of the brain associated with reward processing.
This flood of naturally occurring opioids induces a sense of euphoria and decreased inhibitions within an individual, diminishing feelings of stress and anxiety through what some refer to as “liquid courage.”
Copious amounts of dopamine surging from an individual’s nucleus accumbens, or pleasure center, can also cause an individual to gain confidence within social settings through a false sense of security.
This influx of neurological chemical production disrupts an individual’s homeostasis, establishing unrealistic expectations for experiencing pleasure. This results in an increase in alcohol consumption in order to achieve that same level of inebriation. In turn, alcohol can establish a pattern of addiction within an individual, typically resulting in a substance use disorder.
While the addictive properties of alcohol are fairly simple to comprehend, understanding why some individuals become addicted to the substance and others do not is a bit more mysterious.
Research has shown that inherited genes are responsible for about half of the risk in alcohol use disorders. Environmental factors and environmental interactions account for the remainder of the risk associated with alcohol addiction.
Saying that addiction runs in the family is actually rooted in fact, but just because your parents were alcoholics does not mean you will automatically follow in their steps.
Environmental influences, such as peer affiliations, social support networks and personal decision patterns directly influence an individual’s frequency of alcohol consumption and the justification behind personal addictive patterns.
Furthermore, individual emotional experiences, such as stress, anxiety and depression can directly impact an individual’s decision to consume alcohol, as well as how often they turn to drinking in order to address their excessive emotionality.
Due to these personally fluctuating reasons for alcohol use, susceptibility to alcohol addiction is hard to pinpoint. Understanding a few key facts can aid in preemptively addressing addictive triggers and avoid succumbing to a complete substance use disorder.
1. Know Your Familial History in Regard to Substance Addiction
Understanding the role addiction plays or has played in your family can provide valuable insight into how substance use impacts you personally. Just as if cancer or diabetes ran in your family, adjusting your personal decisions and self-care habits to address a genetic predisposition to the disease of alcoholism mitigates the potential for developing that disorder.
2. Develop Healthy Methods of Processing Excessive Emotionality
Stress is a major factor in alcohol consumption and addiction. Developing unhealthy methods of emotional management, such as stress, anxiety, depression and anger, fails to appropriately address those issues while simultaneously compounding the problem.
Learning to manage emotions through physical activity and mental meditation can aid in alleviating symptoms and strengthening your mind and body in a healthy manner.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There are some battels in life we must fight on our own and others that require outside assistance. Dealing with alcohol addiction requires accountability and encouragement, which are hard to achieve alone.
Having the foresight and confidence to ask for help when facing a substance use disorder can greatly increase the likelihood of sustained personal access and sobriety.
Hebrews 13:5 states that God will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is there when things feel hopeless and supporting you when all seems lost. All you need to do is ask for that help and He will provide the strength necessary to conquer anything in your path, including addiction.
Regardless if alcoholism runs in your family or you feel you’re more vulnerable to addiction, you know your heavy alcohol use must come to an end if you want to live a meaningful, whole life.
Your chapter(s) on alcohol addiction can come to an end at Covenant Hills. Much more than traditional addiction rehab, addiction recovery at Covenant Hills focuses on your whole person – giving your mind, body and spirit the attention and nurturing it deserves to fully heal.
Through our Christian-based, individualized addiction treatment, your psychological, emotional, physical, nutritional, fitness and spiritual needs will be addressed and supported throughout the entire healing process.
Learn about our Christian-based alcohol addiction treatment programs, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.
If you’re a loved one to an alcohol addict, we’re here for you, too. You know first-hand that the impact of addiction extends far beyond the addict. Your loved one’s actions, choices and behavior has caused you and your family great suffering. You know that forgiveness is a crucial step in the recovery process but you’re unsure how to let go of the pain and wholeheartedly forgive the addict in your life.
Be sure to read our post on How to Forgive a Loved One for their Addiction to find seven tips to set your mind right and begin your recovery and forgiveness journey.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. Accessed September 9, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm.
WebMD. Why Is Alcohol Addictive? Study Offers Clues. Accessed September 9, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20120111/study-sheds-more-light-on-why-some-get-alcoholism#1.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder. Accessed September 9, 2018. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders/genetics-alcohol-use-disorders.