Three Alcoholism Facts To Keep In Mind

June 01 , 2022

It is easy to overlook the complex psychological factors that contribute to alcoholism. A psychological investigation into alcoholism facts reveals something that appears to be an oxymoron but, in reality, is insightful and accurate: that alcoholism isn’t really about alcohol. Now, to be clear, alcoholism involves a person’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol. That cannot be denied. However, alcoholism does not stem from the alcohol itself, but from many psychological factors. In order to deal with alcoholism properly, one must understand why someone is an alcoholic.

Alcoholics do not seek alcohol as an end in itself, but as a means of coping with other issues. The American Psychological Association explains in the definition of alcoholism, “For some alcohol abusers, psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem and a need for approval prompt inappropriate drinking… Poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds of developing alcohol dependence.” Thus, there are many psychological motivations for the unhealthy consumption of alcohol.

This observation contributes to a holistic approach to addressing alcoholism. Eliminating the availability of alcohol, while essential, is only one piece of a large and complicated puzzle. It is likely that an alcoholic has an addictive personality which happens to fixate on alcohol. Therefore, focusing on alcohol itself will not adequately navigate the difficult terrain of alcoholism. Again, the American Psychological Association explains that alcoholics may abuse alcohol in order to attain a “high” that allows them to escape their current situation mentally and alleviate psychological pain.

In addressing alcoholism, one must identify the problems which motivate alcohol abuse and explore healthy ways of minimizing these problems. Perhaps a patient uses alcohol because they feel trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship. Or, a patient may seek alcohol for comfort from what they perceive to be a hopeless financial situation. Needless to say, the causes of alcoholism can take many forms.

Alcoholism Facts: The Intricate Reality

Approximately 7% of the adult U.S. population has a problem with alcoholism. Understanding some alcoholism facts will lead to a mindset which refuses to view the alcoholic patient in isolation from the rest of the world. While clinicians may take these facts for granted, patients and their families may benefit from being introduced to these ideas by their therapist.

Alcoholism does not denote a simple relationship between the patient and the substance. Rather, it is best to picture an alcoholic within a web of relationships and influences that play an important role, either negatively or positively, within their relationship with alcohol. Psychological and environmental factors are influential in determining whether an individual begins to use substances.

Alcoholism is not a decision. Genetic factors are influential in determining who progresses from alcohol use to addiction. For example, genetics, according to CASA, account for 50-75% of the risk for addiction. This reality does not necessarily absolve the alcoholic of responsibility, but it acknowledges the complexity of alcoholism and the need for treatment.

Alcoholism affects all who are involved in the alcoholic’s life. A history of alcoholism, for example, influences not only the individual patient, but his or her entire family, in addition to friends and coworkers. For example, a 2012 study found that more than 10% of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems.

This article has just briefly touched on some complicated alcoholism facts. It is important to remember that alcoholism is an intricate psychological reality and should be treated as such.