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Why Do We Drink Alcohol Psychology

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Causes Of Binge Drinking

Newsroom: Why do we drink?

If binge drinking isnt caused by physical dependence on alcohol, what causes it? For many people, binge drinking is triggered by the fact that alcohol use is so socially acceptable. Many social occasions, from holiday gatherings to sporting events, revolve around alcohol. The mind-altering chemical in alcohol can lower inhibitions and relieve stress, so some people binge drink when they are feeling particularly overwhelmed or stressed.

How Do Alcohol Use Disorders Affect People

While some research suggests that small amounts of alcohol may have beneficial cardiovascular effects, there is widespread agreement that heavier drinking can lead to health problems.

Short-term effects include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. Long-term problems associated with heavy drinking include stomach ailments, heart problems, cancer, brain damage, serious memory loss and liver cirrhosis. Heavy drinkers also markedly increase their chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide, and suicide. Although men are much more likely than women to develop alcoholism, women’s health suffers more, even at lower levels of consumption.

Drinking problems also have a very negative impact on mental health. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can worsen existing conditions such as depression or induce new problems such as serious memory loss, depression or anxiety.

Alcohol problems don’t just hurt the drinker. Spouses and children of heavy drinkers may face family violence children may suffer physical and sexual abuse and neglect and develop psychological problems. Women who drink during pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging their fetuses. Relatives, friends and strangers can be injured or killed in alcohol-related accidents and assaults.

Peer Pressure And Camaraderie

Many people drink when others around them are drinking. In fact, most non-alcoholics tend to drink in social situations, such as weddings or football games, where alcohol is considered a part of the event itself. Though the term peer pressure is often associated with young people, it is not limited to those in junior high, high school, or college. Drinking is prevalent in our culture, socially accepted, and legal. Peer pressure to drink alcohol can exist at any stage of life.

For the alcoholic, the obsession to drink can turn peer pressure into a cleverly disguised excuse for drinkingeven when they know they shouldnt be drinking based upon mounting evidence its a problem. Often, alcoholics believe they are drinking to have fun and enjoy time with their friends which is oddly ironic as they frequently drink alone.

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Finding The Root Of The Problem

Finding a sustainable solution to alcohol abuse and addiction requires a good understanding of what drives the problem and what exactly you are using it to âcopeâ with. This often requires doing some introspective work and addressing topics that may be vulnerable, like past trauma, a high-stress lifestyle, or feelings of low self-worth. Some of the ways that people may explore and address what is driving their use of alcohol as a coping mechanism include:

Alcohol Misuse Vs Alcohol Use Disorder

Effects of Alcoholism

Alcohol affects different people in different ways. Generally, however, the difference between alcohol misuse and AUD lies in looking at how a person drinks in the short term, as opposed to over a prolonged period of time.

In addition, AUD is an addiction disorder, which means you may have a difficult time stopping alcohol consumption, even when you want to. The definition of AUD also includes the impact that such drinking has on your health and life.

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The Making Of Alcohol

The forms of grain like einkorn that were cultivated by the earliest farmers in the Middle East lacked the gluten that makes good bread, but would have made an excellent gruel for fermentation. Vats and vessels, some of quite enormous size, containing the residues of brewing have been discovered at several archaeological sites associated with the earliest settlements, some 8000 or so years ago. This was not just the making of beer for the family dinner: it was beer-making on an industrial scale for large feasts.

The Psychology Of Binge Drinking

Why do people overindulge in drinking alcohol? Some people drink too much because they are physically addicted to alcohol, but not everyone who drinks heavily is actually physically dependent on it. A common problem with alcohol use is binge drinking, which is consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. This is usually about four drinks in two hours for the average woman or five drinks in two hours for the average man. Those who drink heavily at times may end up in a lot of trouble and may make the effort to stop binge drinking, but sooner or later do the same thing again.

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Alcohol Addiction And Genetics

Increased awareness of alcohol addiction has led to recently published scientific evidence that points to genetics playing a significant role in alcohol addiction. One such report states that alcohol use disorder often seems to run in families, and we may hear about scientific studies of an alcoholism gene. Genetics certainly influence our likelihood of developing an alcohol use disorder, but the story isnt so simple.

The studies show that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for AUD, showing that genes alone do not determine whether someone will develop an alcohol use disorder. Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions, account for the additional risk.

The published research is based on a behavioral pattern that significantly occurs in a family with a history of alcoholism, which is known as DRD2, but the connection is yet to be verified as a primary cause of alcohol addiction. Further studies have shown that children of alcoholics are more likely to develop alcohol-related problems compared to the general population. The prevalence of alcoholism in first-degree relatives is three to four times more than compared to the general population.

What’s Your Drinking Personality

Why we black-out when we drink alcohol

Experts explore the differences in alcohol-induced behaviors.

Does summer mean parties, heavy coolers, and plenty of pitchers on your favorite restaurant patio? First you may want to recall how your personality morphs after a few drinks too many.

WebMD talked to the experts to find out what’s to blame for booze-related personality and behavioral changes, and whether it’s possible to tame that other — sometimes ugly — persona that has a habit of rearing its head shortly after the drinks start flowing.

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Why Do Many Young People Drink Alcohol

Many young people drink alcohol for the above reasons.

Young people can be especially susceptible to peer pressure, wanting to fit in with their friends or the environment in which theyre drinking. Likewise, if they have parents or guardians who tend to abuse alcohol, this behavior can rub off on them.

Young people may also be enticed to drink due to increased independence as they get older.

Warning Signs of Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is defined as anyone who drinks below the legal age limit . And its quite common.

Here are some warning signs of underage drinking of which you should be aware.

  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Slurred speech
  • Finding or smelling alcohol on them or in their things

Note: Many of these warning signs also correlate with typical characteristics of adolescence. Consult a doctor if these symptoms seem abnormal or last for a long period of time.

Reasons Why People Drink Alcohol

People drink alcohol for many different reasons. However, some people drink alcohol more than others, and those who consume many alcoholic drinks on a regular basis can develop a dependency on it .

Here are some of the most common reasons why people drink alcohol:

1. Social Reasons

Some people consider themselves social drinkers, as they consume alcohol in various social situations happy hours, birthday parties, holidays, etc.

They might enjoy a glass of wine on an evening out with friends or during another social activity. This form of drinking typically doesn’t disrupt their lives or cause any personal or major health problems long-term.

2. Peer Pressure

While your peers may help you develop new skills or invoke unique interests, they can also pressure you to engage in activities that you may not have otherwise chosen on your own, such as drinking alcohol.

Some people start drinking or drink too much due to peer pressure young people like high school and college students, for example, are especially susceptible to peer pressure. Sometimes they begin drinking alcohol to “fit in” even if they never planned to do so.

3. Family History of Alcoholism

The effects of alcohol are long-lasting and can take a toll on your health well beyond a hangover.

Like all addictions, alcoholism affects the reward center of the brain, and heavy drinkers can pass their drinking problems down to their children.

4. Stress

5. Mental Health Issues

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A Drink Will Warm Me Up

Not quite. While alcohol can make you feel warm temporarily this is a perception generated by heat-sensitive neurons located in your skin that detect a rise in your skin temperature from an increase in blood flow in the vessels close to the skins surface. In fact, alcohol actually lowers your core body temperature because the rush of blood to the skins surface is a means of body cooling.

So while you may feel warm on the outside, you are getting cold on the inside. Alcohol consumption to reduce the perception of cold air temperatures but it is thought that this effect may not come from changes in the dilation of blood vessels but may originate in the brain itself.

All in all, alcohol has multiple effects on your mind and brain. If you do decide to have a drink, for whatever reason, do so with knowledge.

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How Can A Psychologist Help

No Alcohol?!? Why We Don

Psychologists who are trained and experienced in treating alcohol problems can be helpful in many ways. Before the drinker seeks assistance, a psychologist can guide the family or others in helping to increase the drinker’s motivation to change.

A psychologist can begin with the drinker by assessing the types and degrees of problems the drinker has experienced. The results of the assessment can offer initial guidance to the drinker about what treatment to seek and help motivate the problem drinker to get treatment. Individuals with drinking problems improve their chances of recovery by seeking help early.

Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address psychological issues involved in their problem drinking. A number of these therapies, including cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment and motivational enhancement therapy, were developed by psychologists. Additional therapies include 12-Step facilitation approaches that assist those with drinking problems in using self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous .

These therapies can help people boost their motivation to stop drinking, identify circumstances that trigger drinking, learn new methods to cope with high-risk drinking situations, and develop social support systems within their own communities.

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Getting Help If Youre Worried About Your Drinking

The government advises that both men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week. This is the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer or six medium glasses of wine. If you regularly drink as much of this, its best to spread it over three or more days.

If youre worried about drinking or feel its affecting your mental health, there is a lot of help available.

Psychological Impacts Of Alcohol Addiction

Not all, but many of those who drink do so to self-medication and improve their mood. Many of those who struggle with addiction as a whole, also experience crippling anxiety or depression disorders. Alcohol is a coping mechanism, and while it may work in the short-term, long-term repercussions from abusing the substance can be catastrophic. Heavy alcohol consumption depletes serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that produce feelings of happiness and calm. Despite this, alcohol addiction can cause the user to continue drinking despite the consequences.

One of the primary causes of alcoholism is binge drinking to forget lifes struggles and problems. Many of those with an alcohol use disorder drink to ignore their hardships and consume large quantities of alcohol in one sitting. Someone who drinks irresponsibly may develop a tolerance in the long-run. The more someone drinks, the more they become tolerant of the substance. Furthermore, this can lead to higher alcohol consumption, and then later, to alcohol addiction.

As we mentioned above, many who abuse alcohol do so because of pressing mental health issues. Depression has been linked with a cause of alcoholism. Alcoholism and depression can coexist, and it is evident among alcohol users who display many mood swings when intoxicated. Those who abuse alcohol have also shown to be more affected by acute withdrawal symptoms, which can then lead to deep-rooted anxiety and depression.

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It Helps Me Overcome My Inhibition

Alcohol is known to reduce inhibitory control in the prefrontal cortex the part of the brain associated with decision-making and social behaviour coming more under the control of midbrain dopamine neurons. This leads to the loss of self-restraint that people report when drinking.

One noticeable effect after just a few drinks is an increase in sociability . But the loss of inhibition probably also underlies risk-taking behaviour while under the influence and goes some way towards explaining between drinking and accidents and injuries.

Alcohol can be responsible for a reduction in inhibitory control

What Are The Health Consequences Of Heavy Drinking

Why Do We Get the Spins When Were Drunk?

One recent analysis found a sobering relationship between alcohol and health. People who drank seven to 14 alcoholic drinks a week lowered their life expectancy by about six months, people who drank 14 to 24 drinks a week lowered their life expectancy by one to two years, and consuming more than 24 drinks a week lowered life expectancy by four to five years. Alcohol consumption was also linked to a greater risk for stroke, coronary disease, heart failure, and fatally high blood pressure. However, its difficult to discern if drinking was the primary problem, or whether lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise influenced health outcomes as well.

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Helping Teenagers Stay Safe Around Alcohol

If your child is going to be around alcohol with other young people, its safest for your child not to drink alcohol.

But in these situations, its common for teenagers to want or feel pressured to try alcohol. This might be because they want to fit in with friends, feel part of their peer group or look cool. You can help your child plan how to respond to this pressure. For example, your child could say Thanks but Ive got a game tomorrow or No thanks, I dont drink.

Some teenagers might try alcohol and enjoy the way it makes them feel. It might give them a thrill or make them feel grown up. If you think your child might be in this situation, here are some messages about alcohol use that can help to keep your child safe:

  • Avoid unsupervised and unsafe environments for example, with strangers, or at large events and parties where there are no adults.

Alcohol Abuse & Addiction Treatment

If you are questioning whether you or your loved one uses alcohol as a coping mechanism, donât hesitate to reach out to us. Talking to a professional can help you determine the extent to which you use alcohol as a crutch, and the negative impacts it might be having on you. They can help you determine whether this is something you might need support in addressing. Sandstone Care has a full continuum of care options for adolescents and young adults seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and alcoholism including a medical detox program. We offer unparalleled care. You donât have to walk this road alone!

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Useful Resources And Information

Al-Anon offers support and understanding to the family and friends of problem drinkers.

Alcohol Change UK campaign for better alcohol policies and improved support for people whose lives are affected by alcohol problems. They offer help and support if you want to change your drinking habits.

Alcoholics Anonymous runs free self-help groups for anyone who thinks they have a drink problem.

Drinkaware provides advice, information and tools to help people make better choices about their drinking.

Drinkline is a free, confidential helpline for anyone worried about their drinking or someone elses. Call 0300 123 1100.

SMART Recovery groups help people build their motivation to change and offer tools and techniques to help with their recovery.

Turning Point offers tailored support to people with drug or alcohol problems. This could be advice, medical treatment, peer support, social activities or help getting back into work, for example.

We Are With You offers free, confidential support with alcohol, drugs or mental health. They have a helpline and webchat specifically for people over 50.

LGBTQI+ support services

The Gay and Sober website has regularly updated information on online LGBTQI+ recovery group meetings.

The LGBT Foundation provides information, support and advice to LGBTQI+ people. They offer one-to-one and group support for people concerned about their drug or alcohol use.

Alcohol Change UK has more resources for LGBTQI+ people who drink in moderation or dont drink.

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