The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates up to seventeen million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, there is no unique or specific cause for alcoholism. However, research suggests genetic influence may contribute to an increased risk for developing alcoholism.
Alcohol addiction, also referred to as alcoholism or more commonly an alcohol use disorder, is a disease that is characterized by the inability to reduce or stop drinking alcohol. Someone who struggles with an alcohol addiction will continue to drink despite knowing their drinking leads to harmful consequences. Alcohol addiction is a disease that affects the brain. Long-term struggles with alcohol will lead to structural and functional changes in the brain, some of which may be permanent.
Alcohol use disorders are a struggle faced by many American’s of all ages. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates thousands of adolescents and teens, some as young as age twelve, have an alcohol use disorder or “alcoholism.” Data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates more than fourteen million adults over the age of eighteen and another 414,000 adolescents and teens ages twelve to seventeen had an alcohol use disorder in the previous year.
Alcoholism develops when you frequently drink for an extended time. Eventually, your body becomes dependent on alcohol to function. Someone with alcoholism will drink alcohol regardless of the known harmful physical, emotional, and social consequences that occur because of drinking.
Currently, research has not identified a specific cause for alcoholism. However, an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism develops with chronic, excessive drinking. In time, drinking at frequent and higher amounts leads to structural and functional changes within the brain. These changes increase the pleasurable feelings that result when drinking alcohol. This makes you want to drink more frequently and more often, even if you are aware of the potential harm it can cause. In time, when you do not drink, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. The presence of withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or try to stop using alcohol also leads to frequent excessive drinking in the effort to reduce the presence of withdrawal symptoms.
Because many people who struggle with alcoholism also have a first-degree relative or family member who struggles with alcohol use disorders, it is common to wonder if alcohol abuse or alcoholism is genetic. Some research studies have indicated there is a 50% chance that someone with a relative who struggles with addiction to alcohol (or even drugs) is at a higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. However, the scientific reasoning behind the biological connection between genetics and alcohol use disorders remains unknown.
Currently, a significant amount of research exists surrounding the connection between genetics and alcohol use disorders. Although researchers have not identified one specific “alcohol gene” that leads to an increased risk for developing an alcohol use disorder, they have found multiple locations within the genetic code that could influence if and how severely someone suffers from alcohol use disorders. It is also believed that a family history of alcohol use disorders may affect one’s genetic predisposition to developing alcoholism.
If you or a loved one struggles with alcoholism, it is crucial to seek help at an alcohol addiction treatment center near you. The first step in overcoming an alcohol use disorder is generally detox. Depending on the severity of your addiction, detox can be complex and lead to two unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It is crucial to detox in an environment under medical supervision to ensure you can successfully wean off of alcohol and safely begin the therapeutic process.
There are many alcohol addiction treatment centers in cities and towns across the nation. Because there are so many choices and so many different levels of care, it is crucial to research and find the treatment program where your needs and goals are considered part of the treatment development process. At California Centers for Recovery, our treatment team will work with you to develop an alcohol addiction treatment program that will help you manage detox and leave treatment with the skills and tools necessary to prevent relapse in the future. The decision to seek addiction treatment is not easy, but it is a vital first step on your journey to physical, psychological, and spiritual wellness. Let the team at California Centers for Recovery help you put the struggles with alcohol addiction in the past. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you achieve lasting sobriety.