In today’s society, alcohol seems to be everywhere. Alcohol is on TV, in movies, advertisements, social media, restaurants and at parties. It can be challenging to go anywhere these days without being reminded of the presence of alcohol. While there are many reasons people turn to alcohol, some may be potentially dangerous, leading to an alcohol use disorder. Understanding why people drink alcohol and the risk factors for alcoholism may help reduce the rates of alcoholism in the United States. 

Common Reasons for Drinking

Social Norms/Pressure

Alcohol and images of it can be found almost anywhere. It is almost expected for a person going to a club or party to drink. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, many memes have been made about day drinking and excessively consuming alcohol while quarantining at home. With these expectations and, at times, peer pressure, individuals often feel obligated to drink alcohol to have a good time. Some may like the feeling it gives them, but this can be a risk as well. 

The Surrounding Environment

Alcohol is often seen in movies, on TV, commercials, advertisements, social media, at restaurants and more. If you are in an environment that is actively promoting and selling alcohol, you are more likely to drink it. Prices also make a difference in alcohol consumption. The reason happy hours are popular is because people get two drinks for the price of one. However, the more they drink, the more at risk they are for developing an alcohol use disorder.

Stress and Anxiety

Some people drink to cope with feelings of stress and anxiety, using alcohol as medication. After a long day of work or being around family, many individuals feel inclined to consume alcohol to relieve them of the negative feelings and “take the edge off.” However, they may find that it eventually takes more alcohol to calm their nerves, posing a risk for future alcoholism.

Depression and Sadness

Whether an individual is coping with feelings of sadness or dealing with a depressive disorder, drinking is a common method of dealing with these feelings. People may drink alcohol to cope with their emotions, believing it will allow them to be happier and enjoy their time more, but eventually, the effects run out, and they’re back to feeling depressed or sad. Thus, they need more alcohol to make themselves feel better.

Potential Risks of Alcoholism

While there are common reasons people drink alcohol, the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism varies from person to person. Not everyone who drinks alcohol will develop alcoholism, nor will everyone who possesses the potential risk factors. Still, it is essential to be aware of such risk factors.

Family History

If there is a family history of alcoholism on either side, an individual has a higher chance of becoming addicted to alcohol. Scientists have found that genetics play a significant role in the development of alcoholism in some individuals.

Past Traumatic Experiences

Individuals who have unresolved traumatic experiences in their past have also been at risk for alcoholism. This is especially true if a person has experienced multiple traumatic experiences.

Mental Health

While addiction can affect mental health, mental health can also affect addiction. Many individuals who struggle with a mental health disorder find themselves using alcohol to cope with the symptoms of their disorder. While drinking can alleviate symptoms for a short period, over time, drinking will only worsen them.

A Person’s Upbringing

If an individual was raised in a home where drug or alcohol use was prevalent, they are more likely to use the same substances. Individuals raised in these households do not know any other coping mechanisms other than turning to addictive substances to relieve their pain.

How Casual Drinking Turns into Alcoholism

Not everyone who consumes alcohol will develop an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism. However, it is a potential risk for many, and the signs cannot be ignored. There are five stages of alcoholism:

  1. Binge drinking and occasional abuse
  2. Increased drinking
  3. Problem drinking
  4. Alcohol dependence
  5. Alcoholism (addiction)

As a person uses alcohol to cope with various emotions and obstacles thrown their way, they will begin to develop a tolerance to the substance and require more to achieve the desired effects. This can worsen mental health over time and wreak havoc in various areas of one’s life. An individual may then drink more, perpetuating the cycle as they fall down the rabbit hole of addiction. At this point, the best option is to seek help and go through addiction treatment to give them hope for a better future.

 

In today’s society, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol is more popular than ever. There are virtual happy hours, jokes about day drinking, and memes about getting wasted even during the week. While this may seem like fun and games, it is harmful to those who pose a risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. If you or someone you love has a drinking problem, there is hope to get help. At Authentic Recovery Center, we are prepared to help you get out of the hole of alcoholism and live a happier, healthier, sober life. Call us at (866) 786-1376 to learn more.