As we look at the different aspects of alcoholism and alcohol abuse this month, it may help us to look into why people drink in the first place. We know that our society has glamorized drinking a great deal and for many, it is simply a way of life. Alcohol consumption in moderation is not wrong, and many people that drink occasionally and not to excess will not have a problem with alcoholism or abuse. But let’s look at the groups of people that do have a higher risk of abusing alcohol.
Genetics and Family
First of all, alcoholism has been linked to genetics. We know that certain ethnic groups have a gene mutation that gives them more severe side effects, such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches when they drink large amounts. People that do not have this gene mutation are more likely as a whole to develop alcoholism.
We also know that alcoholism does run in families, either because of genetics or maybe more likely, because of the negative example being passed on from parent to child.
Depression and Stress
Psychological factors also influence the risk of alcoholism. Depression often goes hand in hand with alcoholism. People drink because they are depressed, and people are depressed because they feel guilty for drinking so much. The natural depressant qualities of alcohol only add to this problem. Individuals with a lot of anxiety and stress often start drinking to take their worries away. Unfortunately, this rarely works, and drinking only leads to more problems. People with low self esteem or those with a lot of conflicts in their relationships may start drinking to make themselves feel better.
Friends and Peer Pressure
Along with psychological factors, a person is influenced by social factors. Many times peer pressure is the thing that gets people to start drinking. We usually think of peer pressure among high school or college students, but stay at home moms, businessmen, and many others may drink in social settings simply because it’s the thing to do, or their friends are drinking.
Most of the time, problem drinking occurs because someone is unsatisfied with something in their life. Depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, and boredom, or the fear of these things, drive many people to self medicate with alcohol.
When we focus on alcohol awareness this month, we need to warn about the risks of trying to use alcohol to make our lives better. More often than not, the alcohol use will make problems worse, or cause new problems. We need to focus on healthy ways to take care of stress, loneliness, and other problems, in order to improve our lives.