Alcoholism is an extremely common problem, yet professionals know that not everyone who is exposed to alcohol becomes dependent on it.
The question of why this happens has puzzled researchers for decades.
They are still gaining more information every day and already have put some pieces together in their attempt to see the bigger alcoholism picture.
In 2004, a study led by Subhash C. Pandey, PhD, a psychiatrist with the University of Illinois at Chicago, finally identified the precise gene linked to alcoholism: the cyclic AMP responsive element-binding protein (CREB) gene.
Researchers discovered that deficiency in the CREB gene results in both an increased preference for alcohol and higher anxiety levels. Based on this evidence, some people might be hardwired toward alcoholism right in their DNA.
This does not mean that every person who is CREB deficient will become alcoholic, but rather that your risk of dependency increases if you have the gene.
Some alcohol dependency arises out of environmental factors.
For instance, if you are chronically stressed because of your work or home life, you might have trouble sleeping or relaxing and turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate.
Many people use alcohol to relax and proceed with events they consider unpleasant, as well. Over time, the behavior becomes habitual and your body becomes accustomed to having the drinks.
Psychologists often stress that people who have some help and opportunities to express their feelings to others might not feel the need to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances as strongly.
Of course, social influences also can contribute to alcohol dependence. There is often pressure to drink at social events like parties, for example, especially during the college years.
If your friends routinely drink, you might give in more easily, wanting to fit in, and over time, you can become physically addicted.
Similarly, if your caregivers or parents were drinkers, then you might have gotten the message that drinking is more than acceptable and had easy access to alcoholic beverages.
To a large extent, drinking is also glamorized in marketing campaigns, television, film, magazines, and other media.
These sources might prompt some people to see alcohol as associated with success.
These individuals might drink thinking that it makes them look more important, or like they’ve “arrived.”
Psychiatric and Medical Conditions
Some individuals with psychiatric conditions such as bipolar, depression, and anxiety disorders turn to alcohol as a way to escape from negative symptoms, so the presence of a psychiatric illness is a risk factor for alcohol dependence.
Professionals know that, when someone does this, their illness usually just gets worse.
For this reason, they recommend that people who have a psychiatric condition and who abuse alcohol get immediate treatment.
People use alcohol to “treat” physical pain just as they do psychiatric symptoms.
This is very common in patients who have medical conditions that have yet to be diagnosed, or who have few effective treatment options.
Some people might become alcohol dependent in this way because they cannot afford the medications or procedures available.
Often, these chronic alcoholic does not know why they continue to drink and use
If you know someone who needs help, or you need help, you can learn more about alcohol addiction here.