What Makes Alcohol So Addictive?
When it comes to the development of alcohol dependence, there are certain pre-existing risk factors that affect how a person reacts to alcohol. These risk factors include:
- Genetic predisposition.
- Underlying and untreated mental illness.
- Environmental factors.
- Consistently high stress levels.
- Unresolved trauma.
- The age during which alcohol was first used.
People who have one or several of these risk factors in place are more susceptible to developing an alcohol use disorder if they drink alcohol consistently for a prolonged period of time. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for AUD. Therefore, genes alone do not determine whether someone will develop AUD. Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions account for the remainder of the risk. Multiple genes play a role in a person’s risk for developing AUD. There are genes that increase a person’s risk, as well as those that may decrease that risk, directly or indirectly. For instance, some people of Asian descent carry a gene variant that alters their rate of alcohol metabolism, causing them to have symptoms like flushing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat when they drink. Many people who experience these effects avoid alcohol, which helps protect them from developing AUD.” The development of alcohol addiction is always unique to the individual. Because of this, it is extremely important for alcohol addiction treatment options to be highly individualized.