Are You at Risk for Alcohol Addiction?
Numerous factors contribute to the development of alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is often referred to as alcohol addiction. Understanding your background and what risk factors could impact your future is essential. Genetics, environment, and mental health factors can all contribute to your likelihood of developing an alcohol addiction.
However, even if you are predisposed to addiction, it doesn’t have to occur. You have control over your actions, and prevention is an option. In all cases, treatment for alcohol addiction is effective.
Why Are Some People Predisposed to Alcohol Addiction?
According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about half of all of those at risk for AUD have a genetic predisposition for it. Simply, if a close family member has suffered AUD, then you may also be at risk for it. Yet, even in this situation, it’s often necessary for environmental factors to contribute as well.
What Environmental Factors Contribute to Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction can impact anyone. When it does, it puts lives on the line. Data from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 28.6 million people over the age of 18 in the U.S. struggle with this condition. That year, an estimated 894,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 also suffered AUD.
Why? Here are some common factors that contribute to the risk of Alcohol Addiction.
- Drinking early. Those who drink at a young age are at a much higher risk for developing AUD than those who do not. Specifically, drinking prior to the age of 15 seems to play a big role in this because, at that age, the brain isn’t fully developed yet.
- Family history of drug problems. Some of this relates to genetics, but it’s also likely that if a person grows up in a household where the adults consume alcohol on a consistent basis, they are more at risk for living the same type of lifestyle, increasing the risk for AUD.
- Mental health conditions. Untreated mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, can contribute to the onset of AUD. In some cases, people use alcohol to help control the symptoms they have of their mental health disorder. Having a drink because you’re always anxious, for example, could cause the onset of health complications.
- Past trauma: Untreated trauma can also lead to the development of addiction. This is especially true in Veterans with addiction who may have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Your age also contributes to the onset of alcohol addiction. For example, consider a study that looked at the vulnerability of alcohol-related harm at various age levels:
- Adolescents: As noted, for those who are younger, between the ages of 12 and 17, the risks of addiction are higher due to the undeveloped brain.
- Young adults: Young adults between the ages of 18 and their late 20s are also at a high risk for developing AUD. During this time, the brain continues to develop, identities form, and the transition to living independently takes effect. About 1 in 10 people within this age group will develop AUD, with young adult males at a higher risk for heavy drinking.
- Late 20s and mid-life: Persistent heavy drinking that occurs in the mid-20s tends to phase out and reduce as a person gets older, thanks to the need to hold a job, parenthood, or marriage. Yet, for those who continue to consistently drink heavily, the risks of AUD are high.
- Older adults: In older adults, especially those over the age of 65, the risk of AUD is the smallest, but they are at a much higher risk of complications from addiction, including the development of memory problems, liver disease, and a drop in overall mortality.
Are You At Risk for Alcohol Addiction? Here’s What to Do Now
If you are using alcohol at any level and find that you’re craving it or thinking about your next drink often, you could be at risk for developing AUD. The sooner you seek treatment, the better.
For those who may have mental health disorders, treating both conditions at once is critical. For example, treating bipolar disorder while treating AUD can help improve symptoms and long-term success. If you feel intense alcohol withdrawal when you don’t drink, that’s also a sign you could benefit from AUD treatment.
At Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, LA, we offer comprehensive plans designed to meet the individual needs of a wide range of individuals, no matter what the cause of their addiction is. Reach out to our team now to learn how we can help you avoid the risks to your health and quality of life that come from AUD.
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