Social and Psychological Causes of Alcoholism

Medically Reviewed on 3/3/2022

5 psychological causes of alcoholism

What Causes Someone to Be an Alcoholic?
Research on the psychosocial origins of alcohol use has found that various behaviors entail alcohol consumption.

There is no single, easy reason why certain people are afflicted by alcoholism. A huge body of research on the psychosocial origins of alcohol use has found that various behaviors entail alcohol consumption.

Multiple biological and psychological elements interact to cause alcoholism; it would be wrong to regard psychosocial reasons as independent of biological causes.

  1. Family history of alcoholism
    • Most human behavior is learned. This is true of addictive behavior. If their family has a long history of drinking that spans generations, one is at a higher risk of acquiring alcoholism.
    • Essentially, if close family members, such as their parents and grandparents, suffered from alcoholism, they are likely to inherit some genes from them that make them more prone to acquire an alcohol issue as well.
  2. Genetical factors that lead to alcoholism
    • For years, scientists have been attempting to figure out if there is any alcoholic gene or another signal that makes someone more prone to get addicted to alcohol. There is no single gene that raises the risk. According to research, there are up to 51 different genes that could lead to alcohol use disorder in distinct chromosome regions.
    • According to a study of the most recent research on genes and alcoholism, the heritability of alcoholism is 49 percent, which means that genetic variables account for nearly half of the risk of alcoholism.
    • The shared environment in which members of the same family live accounts for 10 percent of the risk of alcoholism, which implies that genetics is a more important risk factor than the environment.
  3. Chemical factors
    • When a behavior or action produces a pleasurable chemical response, the brain is compelled to repeat that behavior or activity.
    • And for many people, drinking alcohol produces a joyful chemical response. This is not a terrible thing when done in moderation.
    • Those who are genetically inclined to develop alcohol use disorder or who simply have a propensity to overdo things are more prone to succumb to the impulse to drink excessively.
    • They get a good feeling from drinking, and their brain craves more of it. Their brain will eventually get dependent on alcohol to produce those happy chemicals, resulting in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they do not drink.
  4. Mental health issues
    • Mental health concerns frequently result in maladaptive coping techniques. Substance misuse, particularly alcoholism, is sadly one of the most widespread.
    • As previously said, alcohol frequently generates a happy chemical reaction in the brain, which the brain will want to repeat. If a person has depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the impulse could be even stronger.
    • People suffering from mental illnesses frequently seek solace in alcohol for a variety of reasons. Perhaps, they want to feel good about themselves and forget about the psychological pain. In any event, mental health difficulties play a significant role in what leads to alcoholism.
  5. Stress
    • Sometimes stress may be experienced due to surrounding situations rather than an underlying mental issue. A serious relationship issue or frustration at the workplace or any other issue may put them into a great deal of stress. In such events, people get tempted to turn to alcohol to help cope with their stressed feelings.

3 social causes of alcoholism

Along with the hereditary elements, a person's association with others and the environment can contribute to the development of alcoholism.

  1. Peer pressure in teenagers
    • Peer pressure is a typical problem for teenagers and young adults. It may, however, impact anyone at any age and is frequently what propels people into what becomes an addiction.
    • For example, a person at a party or social event, where many are drinking, will probably want to join in. This causes a pleasurable chemical reaction. This and biological causes may lead to alcoholism.
  2. Peer pressure from media
    • People are continually assaulted with advertisements. Alcoholic beverage advertising is no exception. These advertisements frequently convey the notion that drinking is an enjoyable, relaxing, and harmless hobby. This representation may influence the subconscious, causing people to drink to achieve the promised emotions of relaxation and contentment. This may be especially tempting if people are stressed.
    • In addition to these commercials, many types of media frequently present drinking alcohol as a typical way of coping with stress. Because alcoholism is frequently portrayed in a lighter, comic tone, some people may subconsciously discount the severity of its real-life equivalent.
    • Essentially, alcohol is frequently portrayed as nonhazardous, and it will allow one to unwind and relax. If someone wants to de-stress, chances are they will turn to alcohol as a result of such depictions, sending a subconscious message that they will not develop an addiction.
  3. Family history may be a cause of social alcoholism
    • People growing up in a household where a parent, sibling, or other family members had an alcohol problem are more likely to acquire alcoholism. Not only because of heredity but also because of the environmental influence of growing up in an alcohol-abusing household.
    • Trauma, despair, anxiety, or other mental health concerns may tempt one to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. In any event, a person's family has a significant impact on their risk factors for alcoholism, which include both biological and social or environmental aspects.

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is defined as the excessive and recurrent consumption of alcoholic beverages to the point where the drinker is addicted to alcohol or is a harm to others and themselves.

  • The harm could be bodily or mental, as well as social, legal, or economic.
  • Alcoholism is considered an addiction and sickness by most clinicians because such use is usually deemed compulsive and under markedly impaired voluntary control.


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Medically Reviewed on 3/3/2022
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Cleveland Clinic. Alcohol Use Disorder.

Talbott Recovery Campus. 5 Most Common Causes of Alcoholism (And What to Do Next).