Alcohol has two properties, called tolerance and dependency, that cause addiction. Tolerance is a condition where, over time, one must take progressively more of a substance to achieve the same effect.
Because of its widespread prevalence, there has been extensive scientific and clinical research into the causes and risk factors related to Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
The process that causes a person to develop AUD is mainly a neurological process involving changes in the nervous system and organ functions brought about by persistent, excessive use of alcohol.
Risk factors refer to potential conditions that could motivate a person to start drinking excessively. It also refers to the negative consequences that could develop as a result of AUD. These risks are not guaranteed to affect everybody, but some people may be affected by some of them.
There are extremely complicated processes involved in the manifestation of AUD. Rather than delving into all the scientific terms, this is a basic summary of the process:
When a person enjoys using alcohol, the brain develops a craving for it. This is because a part of our brain, commonly called the “reward centre”, urges us to obtain more of it. Another part of the brain acts as a “warning system” – If we stop taking alcohol, it will activate and keep warning us that we need to drink alcohol again.
Alcohol has two properties, called tolerance and dependency, that cause addiction. Tolerance is a condition where, over time, one must take progressively more of a substance to achieve the same effect. This means that, with the passage of time, you have to increase the volume of alcohol that you drink in a single session to achieve the same feeling, or results, that you experienced during previous drinking sessions.
Dependency is when our nervous system and organs adapt to alcohol and need it in order to function. If we stop taking it, we become ill and experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. To get rid of the withdrawal symptoms, we need to take alcohol to reactivate our organ functions.
Once the above conditions have been established, we have AUD.
There are three types of risk factors involved in AUD. These are:
Conditions that contribute to the manifestation of AUD include:
Common consequences of AUD include:
Conditions that may lead to a resumption of drinking include:
Although the causes and risks of AUD create a grim impression, there are many solutions for recovering from AUD and avoiding all the risks related to it. Relapses can happen, even a number of times, before a person recovering from AUD finally settles into sustained long term sobriety, but with professional treatment, patience and perseverance anybody can achieve it.