Why Do People Become Alcoholics?

Alcoholism is a serious problem that affects millions of people in the United States alone. It can affect a person's life and even cause them to suffer a premature death.

A good friend of mine died at 20 years old because of alcohol poisoning. If nobody knew him, they would have assumed that it was just a freak accident that happened at a party.

But I lived with him and I knew him well, and it stemmed from his love for alcohol, not just some one-off incident or the influence of fellow party-goers. He would drink in excess every single day, so it was only a matter of time before he'd push it past the limit.

As to why people become alcoholics in the first place, there's a number of different reasons. Not everybody has the same life story or comes from the same background, so alcoholics come from all walks of life and fall into alcoholism under different circumstances.

For some people, it's because of things that happened in their childhood, while for others it may not be a mental or emotional thing at all and more of a party thing for them.

There's literally thousands of reasons someone can develop an addiction to alcohol, but here's some of the more frequent causes that caused the majority of alcoholics to become that way.


If you've ever seen the movie Suicide Kings, you might be familiar with a scene in the film in which Dennis Leary's character explains to another man how his father had a drinking problem due to "the irish gene", which his father inherited from his grandfather.

Although this may seem like a myth and far-fetched, especially since it's mentioned in a fictional movie, there are numerous scientific studies that have concluded that genes do play a role in alcoholism for some people.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) funds a team of researchers known as Collaborative Studies on Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) which have produced many studies over the years providing evidence that heriditary factors and genes can be responsible for a person's desire for alcohol.

One 1995 study performed at the University of Granada titled "Classification of alcoholics on the basis of plasma beta-endorphin concentration." found that low beta-endorphin levels in some individuals, due to their genes, helped predict whether they would become alcoholics later in life.

So while having a parent around who is a heavy drinker can definitely influence a child to want to drink once they're older based on what they observed, it may be more than simple observance or a bad role model. It may be a physical defect in a person's brain or genetics, passed down from the parent, that is actually causing them to want to drink as an adult.


Although alcohol is known to make people more sad and depressed than happy, there's still plenty of people out there who drink it because they are already depressed.

Some people just want to wallow in their own depression or drink heavily until they forget about all their problems in life. In other words, depression and alcoholism go together like peanut butter and jelly. This is one of the worst reasons for a person to drink, because it creates a sort of cycle or downward spiral.

When a person becomes depressed, they drink alcohol, which can make them even more depressed, so they drink more.

The next day they become even more depressed than the day before because alcohol tends to make things more stressful and confusing when a person is withdrawing from it, so they drink more.

The deeper they get into alcoholism, the worst their depression gets. The alcoholism thrives from the depression and the depression thinks that it needs the alcohol. It's a dangerous relationship between the two.

Work Influence

Some people become alcoholics simply because they're constantly around it and this makes it harder for them to avoid. Those who work in bars, restaurants, or other service positions where they're constantly around others who are drinking will often find it harder to avoid it.

This is particularly true when their coworkers are also using alcohol while on the job and when they aer trying to make the workplace into a festive atmosphere.

Anybody who's seen the movie Cocktail can understand how this can happen and how easy it is for someone to get caught up in the party lifestyle when you're surrounded by it and employed by it.

These types of alcoholics may spend their entire lives in certain positions because they get used to drinking while on the job or after work and the easy access to beer, liquor, or wine makes it that much harder for them to quit or to find a different form of work.

Inability to Socialize

Then of course there's those who drink in order to socialize because alcohol can soothe a person's social anxiety or at least make it a bit easier to talk with other people. The majority of people who drink when going out do it for this reason because being able to socialize usually means a more enjoyable night out for most people.

This is often how alcoholism begins because people who do this sometimes find themselves unable to socialize without it once they get used to using it as a social crutch. Some drinkers feel that they don't have much of a personality without it and when they start drinking their personality comes alive as if a switch inside them was just turned on.

So although they may only be drinking on the weekends, this eventually starts carrying over into the weekends and before you know it a casual social drinker becomes a full blown alcoholic.

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