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How Does Someone Become an Alcoholic?

We often hear the questions, “How does someone become an alcoholic?” “Is it purely genetics?” “If I have an alcoholic in the family, does that mean I will be an alcoholic too?” The simple answer is no. Although genetics do have some play in becoming addicted to alcohol, developing an addiction often takes years and usually begins with drinking for the effects it has on the body.


Signs That Someone is Addicted to Alcohol

There are many signs that someone is addicted to alcohol. Here are a few of the main tell signs.

–          Habitually Drinking Alone

–          Lying About Drinking Habits

–          Unhappy or Irritable When Not Drinking

–          Blacking Out, or Losing Memories When Drinking

–          Drinking to Forget Problems and Stress


Affects on the Brain

Alcohol has physiological effects on the human brain. When someone consumes alcohol, the alcohol changes the balance of chemicals, such as dopamine, in their brain. Alcohol is a depressant, often making it most attractive to people who suffer from psychological problems such as high stress, low self-esteem, or depression. For example, a drinker can become confident and less anxious after an initial drink. This is due to the depressing of the part of the brain that is associated with inhibition. Eventually, a person can build a craving for alcohol to restore the pleasurable feelings and avoid the negative ones. This craving leads to the addiction of alcohol.


Is It In My Genes?

Genes may be an important factor in triggering the development of alcohol addiction, but it certainty isn’t the only factor. Research has suggested that the children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become an alcoholic. Researches have not been able to pinpoint exactly which genes increase a child’s risk of becoming an alcoholic, but have found that the effect is due partially to environmental factors, and not strictly from a genetic link.

Environmental Factors

What do researchers mean by “environmental factors?” Environmental factors include the acceptance of alcoholism in the media, the advertising and marketing of alcohol, social influences, and the availability of alcohol.


Media Acceptance: Movies, TV shows, and even athletes are shown drinking, and enjoying alcohol. This social acceptance of drinking makes the act seem desirable, and often has an influence on young drinkers.

Marketing & Advertising: The same goes for marketing. Advertisers aim to make alcohol seem cool and have social status. This is why they often use role models, or highly recognized celebrities to promote alcohol in ads.

Social Influences: Most young drinkers begin drinking because their friends are drinking. By starting young, drinking alcohol becomes an acceptable habit, and can lead to alcohol addiction.

Availability: Lighter forms of alcohol are sold everywhere from small stores to gas stations, and hard liquor is even becoming more accessible through supermarkets. This easy accessibility aids the consumption of alcohol, and makes it harder for alcoholics to recover. This is why it is most effective for recovering alcoholics to initially check in to a clinic, and keep away from temptation.


What Can I Do?

If you believe that you, or someone that you know may have an addiction to alcohol, contact us at Lifeline Connections. Our programs are custom tailored to our patients, and provide effective results. Take your best shot at overcoming addiction. Contact Lifeline today.

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