Causes of Alcoholism

Causes of Alcoholism: Alcoholism has multiple causes. Its development can be best viewed in the terms of interaction of biological, psycho social and cultural factors.

Causes of Alcoholism: what causes alcoholism?
what causes alcoholism

Biological causes of Alcoholism

It has been observed that some people are more resistant than others to the physiologic effect of alcohol. Men and women of this type are said to have high tolerance and presumably are less prone to alcoholism (Alcohol Addiction) than those who have less tolerance. This difference suggests the possibility of hereditary influences possibly in the form of inborn metabolic differences.

Kanji after his study concluded that if a monozygotic twins is alcoholic there is a 60% chance that his or her other twin will be alcoholic. The concordance rate for dizygotic twins is only 20%.

Most recent studies however have strongly supported genetic view point.

Goodwin et al (1973) found that children of alcoholic biologic parents still had nearby double the number of alcohol problems by their late twenties as did a control group of adopted children whose biological parents did not have the history of alcoholic parents.

In another study of Goodwin and his colleagues (1974) compared the sons of alcoholic biological parents with those raised by their own alcoholic parents. Both the adopted and non-adopted sons later evidenced high rate of alcoholism 25% and 17% respectively. These investigators concluded that it was being born to an alcoholic biologic parent rather than raised by non-alcoholic one increased the risk of son becoming an alcoholic.

causes of alcoholism
causes of alcoholism

Psychological and Interpersonal causes of alcoholism

A number of psychological and interpersonal factor have been proposed to explain psychological dependency of alcoholic on alcohol and there are as follows –

  1. Psychological Vulnerability

By this we mean that there is an ‘alcoholic personality’ a type of character organization that predisposes a given individual to the use of alcohol rather than some other defensive pattern of coping with stress. In lines with the above views, some investigators have reported that alcoholics in the terms of pre alcoholic personality, tend to be emotionally immature, expect a great deal from world, have low frustration tolerance, require an inordinate amount of praise and appreciation and react to failure with marked feeling of hurt and inferiority.

Winokur and associates are of the view that men drink heavily to prove their masculinity and achieve the feeling of adequacy and competency.

While such findings provide promising leads it is difficult to assess the role of specific personality characteristics in the development of alcoholism. There are many persons with similar personality characteristics who do not become alcoholic and others with dissimilar ones do. The only characteristic common to most drinkers is maladjustment, yet not all maladjusted persons become alcoholics.

Thus the concept of pre alcoholic personality remains indefinite, though alcoholics tend to show distinct cluster of personality traits, once their drinking becomes established included here are low stress tolerance, a negative self-image, and feeling of inadequacy, isolation and depression.

Causes of Alcoholism

Stress, Tension Reduction and Reinforcement

The behavioristic approach to alcohol addiction assumes that people learn to drink excessively as a result of rewarding effect of such drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a sedative that has the ability to reduce anxiety. Since anxiety is undesirable, any quick and effective method of removing it is likely to be rewarding. When this cycle of reward and reinforcement is repeated drinking becomes the preferred and necessary means of removing tension. A number of studies also support the above view and have shown that an alcoholic is discontented with life and is unable and unwilling to tolerate stress and tension.

A serious objection to this approach is why it happens that some excessive drinkers are able to control their drinking but others do not.

Had it been effective in controlling anxiety then it would have been more common phenomenon.

General Socio-Cultural causes of alcoholism

Bales has out lined three cultural factors that appear to play a past in determining the incidence of alcoholism in given society –

  1. The degree of stress or inner tension produced by the culture.
  2. The attitude towards drinking fostered by culture.
  3. The degree to which the culture provides the substitute means for coping with tension and anxiety.

Horton in a pioneering study of 56 societies found that the greater the insecurity level of the culture the greater the consumption of alcohol. Thus it appears that set sanctions and social customs play an important in influencing alcohol consumption. This is also well illustrated by Muslims and Jews whose religious values prohibit the use of alcohol, whereas in French and Irish the alcohol consumption is higher because of cultural approbation.

Also Read: Alcoholism

Causes of Alcoholism: alcohol consumption
Causes of Alcoholism: alcohol consumption

Other causes of Alcoholism

  1. Urbanization
  2. Sudden Success
  3. Occupational Factors
  4. For Fun and Comparison ship
  5. Glamour and Fashion
  6. Ignorance

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