Many people know at least one person who has struggled with the effects of alcoholism, now commonly referred to as an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Whether you end up with a summons for driving under the influence, or relationship complications, alcohol has the power to destroy your life.
There’s no single cause of AUD. Alcohol problems can affect anyone, regardless of geographic location, age, sex, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or body type.
And it may be very mild, to the point of being barely noticeable, or very severe, leading to catastrophic consequences for the user.
AUD is associated with different hypothetical causes, including:
Genetics: Excessive alcohol consumption tends to run in families. Simply put, you may be more likely to drink because that’s what all your family members do.
Environment/surroundings: If you grow up surrounded by heavy drinkers, you’ll come to believe the activity is normal. If you live in an area with many bars and liquor stores, you may come to see excessive drinking as a fun, relaxing, and relatively normal activity.
Attitude towards money: Some people associate alcoholism with low-income households, but the truth is, those with more disposable income are likely to partake in alcohol consumption because they can afford to buy all the booze they want.
Social connections: If all your friends drink, and your favourite way to socialise always involves going out to knock back a few, you’re more likely to develop a disorder.
Mental health: People with issues such as depression or anxiety are more likely to use alcohol as a coping strategy. This can lead to a vicious cycle, with depression leading to heavy drinking, heavy drinking leading to life problems, and life problems leading to more depression.
People don’t typically choose to develop an AUD; it tends to unfold over time, often without one even realising it. The good news is, it’s possible to overcome AUD by doing the following:
Admit you have a problem: This first step is often the most difficult. If your family members or friends drink more than you do, you might think you’re consuming a normal amount – but this might not be the case.
Undergo therapy: Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of your best resources. It can help you uncover deeper truths about your personality and history, while simultaneously guiding you towards healthier, better behaviour.
Lean on others: You don’t have to do this alone. If you have supportive friends and family members in your life, turn to them and accept any help they can provide.
Avoid temptation: It’s especially important in the early days of recovery to avoid tempting situations and environments. Stay away from bars, parties with heavy drinking, or friends drink a lot.
In short, alcohol consumption doesn’t have to ruin your life. Even if you’re struggling with AUD, with the right motivation, discipline, and support, you can make a concentrated effort to change your life for the better.