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What Are the Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction?

Just like in the case of drug abuse and addiction, there are certain risk factors that make a person much more likely to become an alcoholic, even if they start out drinking at a controlled amount. If you believe you or someone you love is suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and needs help, call 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) now to find rehab centers that will cater to your specific situation.

What Are the Low-risk Standards for Drinking?

Those who live with certain risk factors associated with alcohol addiction are often advised not to drink or to be extremely careful with their drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, low-risk drinking includes

  • No more than 4 drinks on any day AND no more than 14 per week for men.
  • No more than 3 drinks on any day AND no more than 7 per week for women.

In this sense, the term drink follows the U.S. standard for drink size, as illustrated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or liquor

Those who drink more than this amount put themselves at risk of developing problematic drinking habits as well as an AUD, the most serious of which is alcoholism. However, those who carry multiple risk factors may want to stay away from alcohol altogether.

Common Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction

Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction

Having a mental disorder increases your risk of alcohol addiction.

Some of the most common risk factors for alcohol addiction, according to the National Library of Medicine, include:


  • A person’s genetic material can actually put them at more risk of developing an AUD than other individuals. For example, if your father or mother was a heavy drinker or an alcoholic, this puts you at a greater risk of developing the disease yourself if you were to drink consistently and often.
  • Men are also genetically more likely to become addicted to dangerous substances if they abuse them consistently.


  • Depending on your specific environment, you may be more likely to become an alcoholic than other individuals. Certain outside factors could increase your chances of becoming addicted to this substance, including
    • Having a family or a circle of friends who routinely drinks heavily and often
    • Being exposed to alcohol use during your early childhood
    • Having a very stressful job or other stressful aspects of your life
    • Having a lack of close friends or family members involved in your life
  • Your economic status as well as your general quality of life can also put you at a higher risk for developing an AUD.


  • As stated previously, those who are exposed to alcohol at an early age are more likely to become addicted to it. This is because the use of drugs and alcohol at an early age is very likely to affect one’s development. Starting to drink at a young age can lead a person to addiction much more quickly because of their inherent vulnerability to addictive substances and the fact that their brains are still developing (National Institute on Drug Abuse).


  • Having psychological disorders or other problems can potentially put one at a higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. For example, those who have the following are actually more likely to become alcoholics or develop another type of AUD if they drink consistently:
    • Have low self-esteem
    • Suffer from a mood disorder like depression, bipolar disorder, or an anxiety disorder like PTSD
    • Suffer from schizophrenia or another mental illness
    • Have experienced sexual or physical abuse

How Do I Know My Alcohol Abuse Has Become an Addiction?

Most of the same risk factors associated with drug abuse and addiction affect alcohol users as well. Having too many of these risk factors can make you very susceptible to developing an AUD, and most doctors recommend that patients who do suffer from these avoid drinking often, in large amounts, and in some cases, at all.

What Do I Do if I Have an Alcohol Addiction?

The safest thing you can do is to seek help for your addiction. Because alcoholism can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms and be extremely difficult to overcome, it is very important to be treated as soon as possible and by professional caregivers. You can call 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) now to be matched with the best rehab center for your safe recovery from alcohol abuse and addiction.

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