Alcohol Addiction Causes

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Alcohol Addiction Causes

Table of Contents

What Causes Alcoholism?

To date, research has yet to provide a single cause of alcoholism. Instead, several contributing alcohol addiction causes may work together to increase one’s risk of developing this disorder.

Not everyone who drinks is destined to develop an addiction to alcohol. However, the more often one drinks to excess, the more they will struggle to avoid a negative relationship with the substance. For most, an occasional drink does not evolve into a substance use disorder. Others may have a more complicated relationship with drinking. Many factors may contribute to or increase a person’s risk of developing alcoholism, but current research does not indicate specific alcohol addiction causes. Rather, the risk of developing alcoholism may increase based on the presence of certain factors. 


Although there is not an “alcoholism gene,” some studies indicate several genes may be responsible for increasing one’s risk.

Mental Health Condition

Alcohol addiction statistics indicate as many as one out of three of those who seek treatment for a mental health condition also struggle with an alcohol use disorder.2 Someone with both a mental health condition and alcoholism has what is called a dual diagnosis. In many cases, they attempt to reduce the severity of mental health symptoms through alcohol. Although it may work in the short term, over a long period, it can lead to alcohol dependency and addiction. 


Work, home, and social-related stress can increase someone’s desire to drink. People in certain career fields with high-stress requirements are more likely to develop alcoholism as they are more likely to use alcohol to reduce stress. 

Environmental Factors

Family history plays a significant role in alcoholism. You are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol if a parent or relative has struggled with alcohol abuse. Alcoholism does not have to “run in your family” to increase your risk. In some cases, merely being around someone who frequently drinks can be a significant influence. 

Social Factors

Peer pressure and social drinking are significant challenges, especially for teens and young adults. Movies and media glorify drinking, and young adults want to “fit in” with peers, so they will often drink in social settings. 

Effects of Alcoholism

The effects of alcohol on the brain and body can be short and long-term. Depending on the severity and duration of your addiction, the effects of drinking may be immediate or life-long. 

Short-Term Effects

Drinking can have immediate physical and psychological effects. The effects will vary depending on how much you drink, your size, and your biological gender. Some common short-term effects of drinking include:3

In some cases where excessive alcohol is consumed quickly in one sitting, severe effects such as coma, respiratory problems, blackouts, and even death can occur. Short-term effects of alcohol on the brain can also occur. These can include relaxation, reduced inhibitions, mood changes, and problems concentrating. 

Long-Term Effects

Long-term alcohol dependence and addiction can lead to serious, sometimes irreversible effects on the brain and body. The effects of alcohol on the brain lead to physical and functional changes to how the brain works. The effects of alcohol on the brain and body can lead to the following : 3  

The Dangers of Alcohol Use

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Alcohol Poisoning

Heavy drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is dangerous and can quickly turn deadly. Common alcohol overdose symptoms include:

Low body temperature
Clammy skin
Slow breathing
Slow heart rate
Alcohol blackout
Bluish skin

Alcohol poisoning is a critical medical emergency and requires immediate medical intervention. 

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when you reduce or stop using alcohol. A host of unpleasant symptoms often accompanies withdrawal. These initial symptoms can develop as soon as six hours after your last drink and continue for up to two weeks.

Again, the severity and duration of these symptoms will depend on the duration and intensity of your alcohol consumption. Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms include: 

Nausea and vomiting
Difficulty sleeping

Others may experience DTs (also called delirium tremens or alcohol shakes), seizures, elevated heart rate, and changes to breathing patterns. If you or a loved one are ready to seek alcohol addiction treatment, it is important to seek addiction help at a facility like Arrow Passage, where our addiction treatment team can provide medical and emotional assistance during the detox process. 

Who is at A Higher Risk for Alcoholism?

Many factors, including genetics, family history, underage drinking, frequent drinking, gender, trauma history, and co-occurring mental health conditions, contribute to an elevated risk for alcoholism.5 While no one group of alcohol addiction causes places an individual at a higher risk than others, there are known specific risks that must be considered if you are considering seeking help or if you are concerned about alcohol dependence and addiction.   

Getting Help

No matter the severity of your alcohol addiction, seeking alcohol treatment is a vital first step in the recovery process. The journey to defeating alcoholism should be made with medical professionals’ support and guidance in a treatment facility with staff experienced in medical detox and alcohol addiction disorders. Depending on the nature and severity of your addiction, there are several different levels of care available to help you get and stay sober. 


Inpatient and outpatient programs offer various behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy that can help you address your addiction’s root causes and better understand how your behaviors are connected to cravings and triggers. During therapy, you will be asked to explore the behaviors that lead to addiction. You will also learn and practice new, healthy, safer coping mechanisms you can use once treatment ends to help better manage stressful situations or other circumstances that may have historically led you to alcohol use.

These evidence-based therapies are used in various therapy settings, including individual, group, and family settings. Group therapy settings provide significant social support for those new to recovery. For some, medications may be used to help alleviate cravings and other challenges related to pursuing sobriety from alcohol addictions. 

Healing with Arrow Passage Recovery

At Arrow Passage, we design our treatment programs based on the needs of each person who comes through our doors. We understand that substance abuse treatment must be personalized to be successful. Our dedicated team will help root our your alcohol addiction causes and discover ways to overcome these hardships. If you are ready to live your best life free from the struggles of alcohol addiction, contact us at Arrow Passage today. 

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