Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. Causes of alcoholism in men.
It is possible to develop alcoholism with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing alcoholism. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your health care provider what you can do to reduce your risk.
The following factors can increase your risk of alcoholism:
Alcohol abuse is five times more frequent in men than in women. Men are more likely to be binge drinkers and alcoholics than women. However, the incidence of alcoholism in women has been on the rise in the past 30 years. Women tend to become alcoholics later in life than men.
Alcoholism tends to run in families. This has led researchers to conclude that a genetic predisposition to developing alcohol abuse problems may exist. The rate of alcoholism in men with no alcoholic parents is approximately 11.4 percent. For men with one alcoholic parent, the rate of alcoholism is approximately 29.5 percent. A family history of alcoholism is also seen in women, although the link is somewhat weaker.
Alcoholism is clearly more of a problem in some cultures than in others. For example, rates of alcoholism are high in Europe and the United States where alcohol consumption is common and socially acceptable. In American culture, alcohol is often used as a social lubricant and a means of reducing tension. In groups such as Mormons, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews, whose religious values prohibit drinking outside of religious services, the incidence of alcoholism is minimal. Higher rates of alcohol abuse and alcoholism are also related to peer pressure and easy access to alcohol.
Researchers have found that certain psychological factors increase an individual’s risk for alcohol abuse and alcoholism. These factors include having high self-expectations, having a low frustration tolerance, feeling inadequate and unsure of one’,s roles, needing an inordinate amount of praise and reassurance, and having a tendency to be impulsive and aggressive.
Causes of alcoholism in males
Researchers have found high rates of alcohol abuse disorders among people with anxiety disorders, depression, antisocial and other personality disorders, schizophrenia, and other substance abuse disorders, such as smoking and illicit drug abuse.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Denial that an alcohol problem exists is common. Alcoholism is characterized by an extremely strong craving for alcohol, a loss of control over drinking, or a physical dependence on alcohol. In contrast, alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations within a 12-month period:
Repeated problems at work, school, or home due to drinking
Risking physical safety by drinking in situations that are dangerous, such as driving or operating machinery
Recurring trouble with the law, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or for physically hurting someone while drunk
Continuing to drink despite alcohol-related difficulties
Alcohol abuse often progresses to alcohol dependence or alcoholism. Alcoholism involves a powerful “craving,” or uncontrollable need for alcohol. This craving overrides the ability to stop drinking. This need can be as strong as the need for food or water. Symptoms of alcohol dependence include:
Craving a drink of alcohol
Inability to stop or limit drinking of alcohol
Needing greater amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect
Withdrawal symptoms if alcohol is stopped, including:
Increased blood pressure
Giving up activities in order to drink or recover from the effects of alcohol
Causes of alcoholism in males
Drinking that continues even when it causes or worsens health problems
Being unable to stop or reduce drinking despite a desire to do so
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life, Eleventh Edition, Allyn and Bacon, 2000