Alcohol Use Disorder: Symptoms and Causes

The United States has a major problem with alcohol use disorder or alcoholism. According to data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there is a rising trend toward high-density alcohol consumption.

Otherwise known as binge drinking, high-intensity alcohol consumption refers to a person who consumes alcohol at least twice the normal level. The NIAAA also states binge drinking is more common in young people aged 18-30.

 Common Causes of Alcoholism 

Science has shown that alcohol consumption causes the brain to produce several chemicals, like endorphins and dopamine, that act as natural painkillers and give us pleasure. The pleasure derived from alcohol can entice a person to consume more and more.

With uncontrolled intake, alcohol will continue to change a person’s body and mind. This is how it becomes a compulsive habit that leads to eventual dependence and addiction.

People drink for different reasons; sadly, most develop alcohol dependence. Several risk factors lead to alcoholism. These include:

 Juvenile Drinking 

The teenage years are when most people experience alcoholism. You are more at risk of developing alcohol dependence if you begin drinking before 15 because drinking this young may make you more comfortable with alcohol than you should.

Family History 

Scientists believe no one gene causes alcoholism; multiple genes are responsible for developing risk factors that can lead to alcoholism. People with these genes are more likely to drink than others if they also deal with addiction-related psychological and social issues. If a parent or relative suffers from alcoholism, a person is more likely than others to become an alcoholic.

Mental Health Disorders 

People with mental disorders often turn to alcohol to manage their symptoms and feel better. While alcohol may temporarily alleviate symptoms like anxiety and depression, regular drinking can lead to higher alcohol tolerance and alcoholism.

Stressful Environments 

Stressful environments can lead a person to drink to relieve stress. However, continuously doing this can lead them to develop alcohol dependence.

According to the NIAAA, men who are more stressed than women are 1.5 times as likely to binge drink. Because of their stressful work environments, long-shift workers and those in high-demand occupations like lawyers, doctors, and construction workers are more likely to develop alcoholism. Stress may also trigger a recovering alcoholic’s emotions, which could cause them to relapse.


Any form of abuse can cause mental trauma. Not addressing these abuses in therapy could lead someone to turn to heavy drinking for a reprieve. This may become a vicious cycle that can lead to severe and even fatal consequences.

Peer Pressure 

Heavy drinking is a common factor in alcoholism among teens and young adults between 18 and 34. Students in high school and college often feel the need to be accepted by their peers and be part of the fun, which often involves drinking.

Peer pressure is not something that only happens at an early age; adults can also feel compelled to drink since drinking is socially accepted.

The First Signs of Alcoholism 

Several warning signs can help you identify alcohol addiction. Some signs are simple to identify, while others are more difficult to spot. Signs of alcoholism can also depend on the severity of an individual’s alcohol abuse. People may try to hide their alcohol abuse by drinking alone and avoiding contact with others. This can make it more difficult for their friends and family members to help them.

It’s easy to overlook mild alcoholism symptoms. However, you shouldn’t ignore these warning signs; they may seem minor but can quickly develop into something more severe.

According to a drug rehab in Murfreesboro, TN, noticing these first signs can help you get the help you need faster:

Slow Reaction Time 

Alcoholism can lead to impaired information processing and slower reaction times. Observe a person’s behavior and movements if you suspect they have alcohol-related issues. If they’re slower than usual, it’s a sign that something is wrong.


Many people suffering from alcohol addiction experience memory loss or blackouts after binge drinking. Blackouts are temporary memory gaps or problems in memory consolidation caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Sudden alcohol intolerance can also cause withdrawal and blackouts.

Motor Coordination Troubles 

Medical professionals have noticed that heavy drinkers develop problems with motor coordination over time. This can cause serious injuries and even death. A Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System study found that heavy drinkers can develop tolerance to alcohol over time for simpler tasks but not for more complex ones.

 Key Takeaway 

Alcoholism is a major problem in America, and it’s caused by various conditions, like juvenile drinking, family history, trauma, and peer pressure.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook its early signs. These include blackouts, motor coordination troubles, and slower reaction times. Noticing these signs can help you get the help you need sooner.

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