Why do People Drink Alcohol? 

There are a number of reasons why people consume alcohol. Social reasons, peer pressure, family history, stress relief and having mental health issues are the most common reasons why people drink in the US. 

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85.6% of people over the age of 18 reported drinking alcoholic drinks at some point in their lifetime with 69.5% reported drinking in the past year with 54.9% having drank in the past month. 

Overview of the Reasons Why People Drink Alcohol

Alcohol consumption has been a part of human culture for millennia, and its popularity spans across many cultures and countries. While there is no single definition of what constitutes “popular” drinking, some trends can be observed.

In general, countries with higher income levels tend to have higher levels of alcohol use. Rates are also higher in countries with more liberal attitudes toward drinking. A good example are European countries where drinking alcohol is part of tradition.

Moderate alcohol consumption and heavy alcohol consumption can both have detrimental effects on one’s physical and emotional health. The various reasons for drinking alcohol will be explored in this article. 

Social Drinking

Drinking in social situations can have negative implications. It can also lead to increased risks of alcohol abuse, addiction and health problems as well as impaired judgement, risky behavior and putting yourself in dangerous situations.

Furthermore, drinking for social reasons can lead to strained relationships and financial difficulties. It is really important to recognize the risks of social drinking and to practice moderation and safe drinking habits.

Alcohol has become an integral part of many social events and it has been used in a variety of cultures for hundreds of years. While moderate alcohol use can be a pleasant part of socializing, heavy drinkers will have issues such as impaired judgment, increased risk of injury, impaired coordination and addiction. 

Stress Relief

Drinking alcohol can temporarily relieve stress, but it is certainly not a healthy or sustainable way to manage stress long-term. Alcohol is a depressant and excessive drinking can increase symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to find healthy coping mechanisms such as talking to a friend, getting adequate sleep, engaging in physical activity, or practicing mindfulness.

Peer Pressure

Drinking to fit in with peers and culture can have serious consequences. It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with underage drinking or drinking to excess.

Drinking may lead to physical injury, impaired judgment, and long-term health problems, as well as social issues such as strained relationships or getting into trouble with the law. 

People Drink to Cope with Negative Emotions or Traumatic Experiences

  • It is not a good idea to use alcohol to cope with negative emotions or traumatic experiences. Alcohol is a depressant that amplifies negative feelings and can make it harder to process and address the issues underlying them. It can also lead to additional problems, such as poor decision-making, physical health risks and addiction. Instead, it is better to reach out to a trusted friend or loved one, or to seek professional help to find healthier ways to cope with negative emotions and traumatic experiences.
  • Alcoholism and PTSD are two conditions that often occur together. People with PTSD may turn to alcohol as a way to cope with the symptoms. This can lead to a cycle of unhealthy drinking and further distress. People with PTSD may also drink more than they should, leading to an increased risk of developing an addiction. It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with both alcoholism and PTSD. Treatment can help address the underlying issues and provide the tools to cope with both conditions in a healthier way. 

Genetics/Family History

Alcoholism is a complex disease that is influenced by many factors, including genetics and family history. Research has shown that genetics can play a role in the development of alcohol use disorder as certain genetic markers can increase a person’s risk of developing the condition.

Individuals with a family history of alcohol use disorder are more likely to develop the disorder themselves, as the environment in which they are raised can shape their attitudes and behaviors towards drinking.

For individuals with a family history of alcoholism or a genetic predisposition to the condition, it is important to take proactive steps to reduce their risk of developing the disorder.

This may include avoiding situations where alcohol is being served and avoiding people who pressure others to drink. It is also important to maintain healthy habits and to seek the help of a mental health professional if necessary.

By understanding the role of genetics and family history in alcoholism, individuals can be better prepared to take steps to reduce their risk. 

Existing Addiction/Substance Abuse Issues

Alcoholism is a serious issue that can be especially concerning for those who have other addiction issues. Substance use disorder is a complex problem, and when alcohol is added to the mix, the risks of addiction and associated health problems significantly increase.

Research has shown that those with other addiction issues, such as drug or tobacco addiction, are at increased risk of developing a drinking problem due to the increased accessibility and availability of alcohol.

Also, those with existing addiction issues may use alcohol as a way to cope with their other problems, leading to an increased risk of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. 

Potential Health Risks Associated with Excessive Drinking

Excessive drinking can lead to a number of potential health risks, including:

  1. Liver damage: Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the liver, leading to cirrhosis, a condition in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue.
  2. High blood pressure: Chronic heavy drinking can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  3. Heart problems: Excessive drinking can weaken the heart muscle, leading to an irregular heartbeat, stroke, and other heart-related problems.
  4. Brain damage:Heavy drinking can cause nerve damage, memory loss, and difficulty with coordination and balance.
  5. Diabetes: Long-term excessive drinking can increase blood sugar levels, leading to an increased risk of developing diabetes.
  6. Cancer: Long-term drinking can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and breast.
  7. Weakened immune system:Excessive drinking can weaken the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases, leading to an increased risk of illness.
  8. Accidents and injuries: Excessive drinking can impair judgment and coordination, leading to an increased risk of accidents, falls, and other injuries.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Use on the Body 

Alcohol has many short-term effects on the body, including:  

  1. Impaired judgment: Alcohol impairs the ability to think clearly, which can lead to poor decision-making.
  2. Slurred speech: Alcohol can cause the muscles in the mouth and throat to relax, resulting in slurred speech.
  3. Reduced coordination: Alcohol can affect the ability to coordinate movements and make it difficult to perform complex tasks.
  4. Short-term memory loss: Alcohol can interfere with the ability to remember recent events.
  5. Increased heart rate: Alcohol can cause the heart rate to increase and can raise the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  6. Nausea and vomiting: Alcohol can cause nausea and vomiting, and even lead to alcohol poisoning if consumed in large quantities.
  7. Headache: Alcohol can cause a headache, dehydration and fatigue.

Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism on the Body 

Long-term effects of alcohol on the body can be both physical and mental.

1. Physically, alcohol can cause damage to the liver, heart, and brain, as well as increasing the risk of cancer. It can also lead to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

2. Mentally, alcohol can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It can also lead to increased risk-taking behaviors, such as driving while intoxicated and engaging in risky sexual activities. Alcohol use can also lead to memory loss and cognitive decline over time. In extreme cases, alcohol can cause alcohol-related dementia, a form of dementia caused by long-term alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Use vs Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use and abuse are two distinct concepts. Alcohol use is the consumption of alcoholic beverages in moderation. It is neither harmful nor does it impair judgment. On the other hand, alcohol abuse is the excessive or abusive use of alcohol. It can lead to physical, mental, and social problems.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical diagnosis that describes a pattern of alcohol use that leads to clinically significant impairment or distress. It is categorized as mild, moderate or severe.

Symptoms include drinking more than intended, having an increased tolerance for alcohol, and spending an excessive amount of time thinking about or obtaining alcohol. AUD can have serious consequences, including physical health problems, emotional distress and social problems.

It can also increase the risk of developing other mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. 

Why do People Binge Drink?

  • Binge drinking is a dangerous and unhealthy pattern of drinking that involves consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Binge drinking often leads to intoxication, which can impair decision-making and increase the risk of alcohol-related accidents and injuries. 
  • Binge drinking is especially dangerous for young people, as their bodies are still developing and are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. It is important to be aware of the risks of binge drinking and to practice responsible drinking habits. 
  • Binge drinking is a serious issue that can lead to health problems, risky behavior and alcohol poisoning.
  • People may engage in binge drinking for a variety of reasons, including a desire to cope with stress, alleviate boredom, fit in with peers and relieve tension.  
  • To reduce the risk of binge drinking, it is important to understand why people are engaging in the behavior. This can help to identify and address the underlying causes and find healthier ways of coping with stress or boredom. Education about the risks of excessive drinking is also important, as it can help people make informed decisions about their drinking habits. 

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Luxe Recovery is a world-class treatment center that can help you or your loved one with alcohol addiction. Please reach out to discuss your situation and learn about how we can help you. Our friendly and knowledgeable admissions staff are here to help – please give us a call today.

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