Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance in the US. More than seven percent of Americans are estimated to have an alcohol use issue. Symptoms of alcohol addiction include trying to quit drinking and not being able to, lying about how much you drink, prioritizing drinking over more important things such as family, work, or school, borrowing or stealing to get alcohol, needing more and more alcohol to get drunk, and experiencing frequent blackouts. What’s strange about alcohol addiction is that while at least 70 percent of Americans drink at least occasionally, a relative small number become addicted. What’s the difference?
Genes play a significant role in any addiction. Probably about 50 percent of your risk is due to genetic factors. There is no single gene responsible for alcohol addiction or any addiction. Humans are massively complex and genes influence our physiology and behavior on many levels. We have identified dozens of genes related to various addictions and many act in different ways. For example, if you happen to have one kind of gene, your liver might process alcohol very slowly, making you prone to getting sick when you drink and giving you some protection against alcohol addiction. On the other hand, there is a gene that seems to affect how positively you respond to alcohol. If you enjoy drinking much more than the average person, your risk of addiction is greater.
There are several ways family history affects your risk of addiction. Genetics is perhaps the biggest way, but your genetic risk is compounded if you have a parent who was addicted to alcohol. Then you are likely to have a genetic predisposition to it and you will also learn that excessive drinking is normal. And you are likely to start drinking at a younger age, which is a major risk factor for developing addiction. You may also be at higher risk for adverse childhood experiences, such as neglect or abuse, which also significantly increase your risk of addiction.
Traumatic events, whether a single major incident, or a pattern of neglect of abuse significantly increases your risk of addiction. More than half of people with post-traumatic stress disorder are estimated to struggle with substance use issues. Living in an abusive relationship is also a major risk factor for depression and addiction.
Mental health issues
Many mental health issues increase your risk of developing an addiction. The more common ones include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, ADHD, and borderline personality disorder. People with mental health issues often drink to self-medicate. Anyone with the co-occurring issues of addiction and mental illness need a treatment program that addresses both in an integrated way.
If you’re struggling with substance use, Recovery Ways can help. We offer intensive outpatient treatment as well as residential treatment. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.