Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks. If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder.
Alcoholism refers to use of alcohol that results in an individual experiencing significant distress and or dysfunction in daily life.
It is diagnosable through specific behavioral criteria. There are no laboratory tests, brain scans, or blood tests that can diagnose alcoholism. Likewise, there is no single identified cause that leads to the development of alcoholism. Instead, researchers and clinicians refer to risk factors. Risk factors are conditions or experiences that can increase the chance or probability that an individual will develop a specific disease or disorder.
Simply having a risk factor does not ensure that a person will develop the condition. Many people have significant risk factors for diseases or disorders and never develop them.
In addition, risk factors are cumulative, such that having more than one risk factor significantly increases the probability that one may develop a specific disease or disorder. Risk Factors Associated with the Development of an Alcohol Use Disorder There are several major risk factors that are associated with the development of any substance use disorder, including an alcohol use disorder.
The major risk factors include: Having a family member with a diagnosis of a substance use disorder increases the risk that one will be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder or any substance use disorder. The closer the relation, the greater the risk.
For instance, having a first-degree relative like a parent or sibling who has a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder is a more salient risk factor than having a more distant relative, such as a cousin, diagnosed with the disorder.
Family history is often meant to designate a genetic component to some disease or disorder ; however, in the case of mental health disorders, family history can represent genetic factors, learning factors, or a combination of both.
Even though numerous genetic associations have been described for the development of substance use disorders, there is no singular genetic factor that can be designated as a cause to any substance use disorder. A diagnosis of some other mental health disorder: This interaction or comorbidity cannot be easily explained even though many try to use the notion of self-medication to explain the relationship between mental illness and substance abuse.
As it turns out, many individuals develop alcohol use disorders before they develop certain types of mental disorders. The presence of a pre-existing substance use disorder is an increased risk factor to be diagnosed with another type of mental health disorder later.
People who experience some traumatic event, stress, etc. This may or may not be related to the self-medication hypothesis depending on the case. It appears that any type of traumatic or stress-related situation can increase the risk to abuse alcohol ; however, certain types of experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse, the loss of a parent at a young age even through divorcebeing the victim of a violent crime, etc.
Subclinical levels of stress: Perceived stress can come from numerous sources.
A lack of family supervision or involvement: This can include poor supervision by family members, or parents who are cold and do not provide significant levels of nurturing.
In addition, societal pressure and influences, such as being given the impression through the media that alcohol use is a normal way to deal with stress can also increase the risk for individuals to abuse alcohol. Age of first use: The earlier a person begins drinking, the more likely it is that they will continue to drink.
Continued or regular use of alcohol is associated with an increased risk to develop an alcohol use disorder in anyone.
There are numerous other risk factors that can interact to increase the risk that someone may develop an alcohol use disorder. For instance, men are more likely to develop substance use disorders, particularly alcohol use disorders, than women, so gender can be a significant risk factor.
Social environment, such as living in an environment where alcohol use is acceptable and considered to be a standard approach to dealing with stress, can also increase the risk to develop an alcohol use disorder.Drinking during pregnancy can cause damage to the baby resulting in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Women are generally more sensitive than men to the harmful physical and mental effects of alcohol. Environmental factors and genetics are two components associated with alcoholism, with about half the risk attributed to each.
Substance abuse, meanwhile, is when a person consumes alcohol or drugs regularly, despite the fact that it causes issues in their life. The issues caused by abuse may be related to their job, their personal life, or even their safety.
People who abuse drugs and alcohol continue to consume them, regardless of the consequences. Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions account for the remainder of the risk.* Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
A public health perspective is an integrated approach for viewing substance abuse that understands the presence or absence of illness or disease as the result of the interaction between three types of causal factors: agent, host, and environment.
For some people, alcohol abuse and alcoholism results from psychological or social factors. They may drink to calm down or loosen up in social settings.
Others use alcohol to cope with psychological issues or stress in their daily lives. Alcoholism is caused by multiple environmental and hereditary factors. It can’t be prevented by vaccine.
Some alcoholism medications, such as disulfiram or acamprosate, may aid recovery from alcoholism.