Alcoholic dependency is related to several factors. The most significant factor that can be attributed to alcohol addiction and reliance is mental factors. Other factors include environmental or external factors, including family history, stressful environments, and social drinking with peers.
Genetic and Brain Influence
Over half of those who suffer from alcohol addiction can be explained with genetic factors. According to research, the genetic makeup of the addict's brain largely contributes to their need for alcohol. Most alcohol addicts have a large lateral habenula in the brain, which is responsible for reward. The more the person consumes the alcohol, the more the person receives a reward from the brain. This makes the person's desire to drink alcohol difficult to control.
The brain and genetics have a considerable influence on whether or not someone will become an alcoholic. In some people, the brain is wired in a way that the person can become chronically depressed or stressed without a stimulant. This causes them to find an oasis by choosing to abuse substances like alcohol or illegal drugs.
Factors such as family history could influence someone's decision to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Immediate family members play a critical role in a person's decision to consume alcohol. A family history of excessive alcohol drinking could lead to the same behavior among those who grow up in the same household. In this instance, excessive drinking could be viewed as a normal behavior and not a behavior that should be used in moderation.
Hostile environments with a lot of stress can also contribute to alcohol dependence. A person who experiences stress that they are not accustomed to could turn to alcohol to cope with their high levels of stress. Someone could use alcohol or even illegal drugs to escape psychological harm.
Peers can also influence a person's perception of alcohol at an early age. Peers who excessively drink and provide an atmosphere where drinking is a socially acceptable action, could also influence others to use alcohol excessively, too.
How Alcohol Dependency Affects the Brain & Body
Once someone consumes alcohol, it changes the balance of chemicals, like dopamine, in their brain. Since alcohol is a depressant, it makes it attractive to people who suffer from psychological problems such as high stress, low self-esteem, or depression. Alcohol increases the balance of dopamine in the brain, giving the consumer a feeling of confidence with lowered anxiousness. As a depressant, alcohol is responsible for depressing the part of the brain connected to inhibition. The lack of restraint creates the possibility of uncontrollable behavior in the person.
The effects on the brain from alcohol are not just temporary. The impact of long-term alcohol dependence contributes to memory loss and brain damage. Studies of the human brain and alcoholic behavior show that the brain can be permanently damaged. The damage includes memory loss, problems learning, and loss of coordinated movement.
Excessive alcoholic drinking includes organ problems that could lead to multiple health problems. An alcoholic dependency issue could lead to liver disease. This critical organ in the body breaks down alcohol into byproducts and removes it from the body. Damaging the liver has long-term health consequences that could last a lifetime.