Many people start out drinking as a casual way to relax, have fun or socialize. Others may have a drink to cope with difficult feelings, emotions or situations. In all the cases mentioned, it is likely a person can quickly lose control of the ability to drink responsibly. Teens and youth are especially vulnerable to peer pressure, a desire to fit in with friends or looking for an outlet to seek excitement. Drinking habits can escalate into addiction, but not necessarily for everyone.
Risk factors can determine a person’s susceptibility to addiction. Closer examination of these risk factors can better inform people’s decisions about whether to seek help for a drinking problem which has gotten out of control.
Risk Factors of Alcohol
Alcohol blocks out pain emotionally and sometimes physically. Unresolved issues from childhood can creep into adulthood and cause a person to seek alcohol as a salve, a healing balm which merely masks the underlying issues and creates new ones. The more a person drinks over time, the higher the likelihood of dependence. Other factors play a part in addiction including:
- Genetics: research demonstrates genes are responsible for nearly half the risk for alcoholism. Genes alone do not determine a person’s risk of becoming an alcoholic but environmental factors interact with genes to increase the risk.
- Modeling: if one or both parents used alcohol to avoid problems it is possible to follow the same path. Parental modeling plays a big role in addictive behaviors.
- Trauma: unresolved childhood trauma can increase a person’s risk for using alcohol as a mask for pain. The use of alcohol merely compounds the problems making it more difficult to quit without the right support.
Seeking Help for Alcoholism
It is possible to get help for an addiction to alcohol. Although it may be challenging, it is worthwhile to seek treatment for addiction and the underlying causes which led to alcohol abuse in the first place. The following are 4 ways to get started.
Support groups. Attendance at a 12-step meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), SMART Recovery or Rational Recovery may be good places to get connected as a starting point. Attend a few different meetings prior to making a decision about whether to continue or what is the best fit.
Seek professional help. A psychologist, therapist or counselor can help answer questions, provide resources and deliver therapeutic support for addiction and the underlying causes.
Find a treatment center. Many mental health clinics provide intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for individuals seeking help for alcohol and substance abuse. Residential rehab may work for some people but others may find the best option is a treatment center.
Family treatment. If a family member or loved one has a drinking problem, find an Al-Anon meeting or other support group. An intervention may be one consideration for offering help to the loved one struggling with addiction.
There is help, and hope, for alcohol addiction.
Call us at 800-910-9299 to find out how we can support your journey to recovery.