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What Contributes to Alcoholism

Written on: June 29th, 2009 By:

What Contributes to Alcoholism?

For decades, physicians, psychologists and scientists have worked together to determine what contributes to alcoholism? The hope is that if these factors can be diagnosed and influenced, a cure for alcoholism can be found. While alcoholism is often misconstrued as a lack of moral conduct and will-power brought about by an individual’s own hedonistic indulgence, alcoholism was defined as a disease by the American Medical Association (AMA) in that it is chronic, debilitating, progressive and fatal if left untreated. To date, the only known “cure” for alcoholism is continuous abstinence.

There are numerous factors that may contribute to alcoholism. The dominant factor most often thought to be the basis for alcoholism is a genetic propensity for it; that is, an individual’s biological make-up is such that they are predisposed to alcoholism. Physicians and scientists have determined that individuals who are labeled “alcoholic” process alcohol differently than their peers. Other factors that may contribute include environmental influence, social conditioning, childhood or adult trauma or abuse and certain addictive personality traits that lead to addiction.

It’s estimated that nearly 70% of people who have mood disorders also struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) create a chemical imbalance in the brain, resulting in mood swings that can be severe. Individuals may attempt to manage these imbalances by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. People who have co-occurring disorders such as alcoholism coupled with bi-polar disorder are termed “dual diagnosis.”

Antisocial personality may contribute to alcoholism. People who resist conforming within the rules and dictates of society may be more likely to struggle with addiction. This disposition can lend itself to social isolation and the inability to build and maintain intimate relationships, which can encourage alcoholism and drug addiction.

This desire to isolate can also encourage low self-esteem and insecurity, another factor that can contribute to alcoholism or drug addiction. People who don’t have a strong sense of self-confidence are more apt to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way in which to belong and feel at ease in social situations. This may also be brought about by “all or nothing thinking,” which is also associated with many addictive personalities. A person who thinks this way is either a complete success or an utter failure, either a winner or a loser, either the head of an organization or the janitor – there’ s no middle ground. This type of extreme thinking can also lead to extreme mood swings and again, the need to self-medicate these emotions can contribute to alcoholism.

The desire for instant gratification can lend itself to a quick fix rather than delaying gratification in order to achieve long-term goals. This attitude is encouraged by our consumerist society which sends a constant message that everything will be okay if you buy this car, take this pill, have this degree, date this person. Learning how to delay gratification in order to reach long-term goals  Our society encourages immediate gratification by consumption from an early age. The right jeans, the right car, a new pill, a new relationship Рall of these attempt to fix dissatisfaction from the outside in. People with addictive personalities want to feel good right now rather than do the work required to enjoy the benefits at a later date.

Finally, the desire to escape painful memories or emotions that arise from childhood or adult trauma or physical, mental or verbal abuse can lead someone to drink or take drugs far beyond a healthy level. These underlying issues need to be addressed with a clinical therapist or counselor in order to release the power and allow an individual to work through them to reach a healthy level of emotional maturity where drugs and alcohol are no longer required to medicate the pain.

These factors that contribute to drug alcoholism are addressed at SouthCoast Recovery through¬† individual clinical therapy and one-on-one drug and alcohol counseling sessions. Alcoholism and drug addiction is merely symptomatic of underlying issues and at SouthCoast Recovery, we offer the most quailified professionals in the recovery field to help you work through these issues in a safe and supportive environment. Drug and alcohol treatment stand a better chance at long-term success if the underlying psychological and behavioral issues are addressed in relation to an individual’s drug and alcohol use. Our clinical therapist has 47 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of underlying disorders associated with alcoholism and drug addiction, and our certified drug and alcohol counselors are members of CAADE, the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Educators. If you or a loved one needs help addressing problems with alcohol or drugs, we can help. SouthCoast Recovery is a drug rehab facility in Dana Point offering 30, 60, 90 day and 6 month residential drug and alcohol treatment.


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