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What Causes Alcohol Abuse?

causes of alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse can be caused by different factors.

Alcohol abuse is the result of sustained or heavy drinking that leads to some type of consequence such as a health problem, impaired judgment, legal trouble or financial problems. The causes of alcohol abuse are very diverse as each individual chooses to drink for a different reason than the next. In some cases, what causes alcohol abuse for one person may be totally different than what causes alcohol abuse for the next individual—however the outcomes can be very much the same and may include a number of consequences.

Unlike alcohol addiction which is known to be caused by sustained, heavy drinking that results in chemical dependency, alcohol abuse is not quite so cut and dry. The causes of alcohol abuse may be social, marital, environmental, financial or other. There are so many reasons for a person to choose to drink and it’s that very choice that can cause alcohol abuse in some people.

Genetic Factors

Genetically, alcohol abuse can be caused by a predisposition to drink that comes as a result of an individual’s genes. An individual who has two parents who drink is likely to suffer from problems with alcohol abuse when he or she grows older. This could be genetic in factor being that the parents both carried potential genes for drinking but there are also environment factors contributing to the decision to drink as well. An individual who sees his or her parents drinking while growing up is more likely to drink as a result of the environment in which he or she lived.

Social Factors

Social factors are often what causes alcohol abuse people who may otherwise have made a decision not to drink. Teens are influenced socially by alcohol and may drink to look cool or to fit in. Adults drink socially to “take the edge off” and to have fun. Many social and emotional causes of alcohol abuse lead to long term consequences such as legal troubles, social interaction problems, disappointment, disagreement or other issues.

A drinker may take part in social drinking to have fun at a party or to fit in. Social drinking is commonly a part of codependency which is a known situation in which if one spouse drinks the other is also likely to drink. Social pressure is a leading cause of alcohol abuse throughout various cultures, in the business world, in the bar and on the streets.

Alcohol Abuse is Not Alcohol Dependence

While it’s important to note that alcohol abuse is not the same as alcohol dependency, it’s equally important to note the dangers of both. Alcohol abuse is the starting point in which there becomes a risk for dependence to occur. People who abuse alcohol regularly are at an increased risk of suffering from an increase in tolerance to alcohol which can lead to physical and psychological dependency factors.

Although alcohol abuse does not guarantee that an individual will become addicted, there are many who first start drinking socially or to have fun and who ultimately find themselves a victim of alcohol addiction which is most difficult to overcome. The primary differences between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are:

  • Alcohol abuse is not a necessity but if it becomes something that the user feels he or she has to do it may have turned into an alcohol addiction.
  • Alcohol abuse can lead to consequences but this doesn’t necessarily mean there is an addiction. If the user decides to continue to abuse alcohol despite the consequences of the alcohol abuse and suffers from two or more major consequences as a result of alcohol abuse over a twelve month period then it could be a sign of alcohol addiction.
  • Alcohol abuse does not include physical withdrawal symptoms if the user decides to stop drinking. There may be a hangover but the symptoms will go away after a day or so and will not linger on the way withdrawal symptoms of alcohol tend to stick with an addict.
  • Alcohol abuse is the first stage of alcohol addiction but it doesn’t result in addiction for every person who drinks. Some people can drink socially for many years and never have a problem with dependency while others may only drink for a few weeks or months and become addicted.


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