Figuring Out What Drives You To Drink

The first step to recovering from alcoholism is to figure out what are your primary causes for drinking. Then you can develop personal strategies to deal with each one.

Genetics and Early Environment

Studies have shown that there are genetic factors that predispose people to be either binge drinkers or persons that are chronically dependent on regular alcohol intake. There are genes that could cause you to be particularly susceptible to alcohol abuse, and then there are genes that would predispose you to addictive behaviors in general.  The latter would involve  seeking pleasurable sensations and using substances to cope with anxiety and stress.

If you grew up in an environment where the adults frequently indulged and had plenty of alcohol around, you would be more likely to develop a problem with it. Also, if you hung around other teens who drank as you grew older, this could start a pattern of problem drinking. If you have children it would good to note that researchers have concluded that parents who talk to their teens about the dangers of alcohol abuse and monitor who their teens associate with can help them to avoid a problem with it, even if they have a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism.

If you  are an adult child of an alcoholic (ACA or ACoA) you would tend to have some characteristics that can make life harder for you, and the stress you are under could drive you to seek relief through alcohol or drugs. These characteristics include:

  • Difficulty loosening up and having fun.
  • Feeling different than other people.
  • Having trouble being successful because you can't seem to finish anything.
  • Becoming attached to people who don't treat you well.

There are twelve step groups for ACAs that can give you support and insight if this is one your issues.

Social Environment and Culture

As you grow older you may find yourself immersed in a social and business culture that encourages drinking. In this atmosphere, you will begin to develop patterns and associated cues that will need to be addressed to stop drinking. Some people have habits of smoking and drinking after lunch or dinner, or they stop by a tavern for a drink on the way home and meet some colleagues.

These things can become unconscious cues for drinking:

  • Particular places or areas of your town
  • Smells, tastes, sounds
  • Cravings for alcohol or drugs
  • Certain types of music frequently played at places where alcohol is served
  • Being with certain friends or acquaintances
  • Watching TV shows, commercials, and movies that glamorize drinking
  • Stresses from work or personal relationships

You will need to think about what triggers that set off your urge to drink. With the cues you can't avoid, you will need to figure out and practice different responses until they become second nature.

Psychological Factors and Medical Problems

Some people use alcohol to self medicate for chronic pain, insomnia, or for psychological issues. This becomes a self perpetuating and self defeating cycle. Alcohol has no inherent pain relieving power, and since you build up a tolerance to it quickly, it takes more and more to produce the effects you need. It can also disrupt your sleep cycle so that you may be tempted to add other drugs to the mix and compound the problem.

To use it to treat anxiety or depression is not helpful either because when you sober up, your problems are still waiting for you and are compounded by your alcohol abuse.

You would need to go to a medical/psychiatric specialist to get the appropriate treatment for your condition. Counseling and substance abuse treatment could be necessary to help you conquer the drive to drink and to provide support while you build a new alcohol-free life.

To learn more, contact an adult psychiatry clinic like Ghaly, Nasri - Ghaly Healing & Wellness Center

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