Alcohol addiction is not something that occurs simply because of moral failure or a lack of self-control. There are a number of different influences in a person’s life that can ultimately lead them to binge drink. In addition to biological reasons such as genetic vulnerability, there are numerous environmental influences that can contribute to alcohol disorders.
The events that take place in a person’s life, the people that they grew up around, their friends, the culture that they live in and many other aspects of their environment can influence them to drink heavily. Even their job, income and the stress level associated with their career can be instrumental in developing an addiction. During recovery they may have to examine these different aspects of their life to understand why they became addicted and make any necessary changes to become sober.
Looking into environmental factors can help people gain a better understanding of how and why addiction develops. Some people may be more prone to addiction because of reasons beyond their own control. Being educated about environment can help people prevent relapse and help others that may be in the wrong environment for sobriety.
Family and Home Life
One of the biggest influences on the development of addiction comes from a person’s family, home life and their childhood. Children who grow up with parents or family members who drink or use other drugs may be more prone to developing issues themselves. Parents and older siblings can set the stage for drinking habits whether they intend to or not by being drunk or having alcohol around young children.
Children that have early exposure to alcohol are more likely to struggle with substance abuse later on in life. Some parents may make drinking appear normal in their family or they may even allow teens to drink instead of warning them of the dangers of addiction. When parents are less involved and don’t have close relationships with their children it can also lead young people to drink heavily later in life.
When family life is full of conflict and stress it can also influence children to drink when they become adults. People who are abused emotionally or physically in early childhood are more likely to develop mental health problems and addictions later on. Adolescents receiving alcohol abuse treatment tend to report higher rates of physical and sexual abuse than others.
Peers and Social Life
In addition to their family, the ones people spend the most time with are their peers in a social circle. Peers can be a strong influence on whether or not someone will begin drinking and develop a habit of binge drinking. A person’s friends and social life can create an environment that influences them to eventually develop an addiction.
High school and college students are often in an environment where drinking heavily is considered normal. The party culture of many universities can cause young adults to develop alcohol problems in their early twenties that become difficult to quit once they graduate. Even older adults who have many friends and coworkers that drink heavily will tend to behave in the same way as their peers.
Work, Income and Stress
A person’s job can have a major impact on whether they become addicted to alcohol or continue using it on a regular basis. People that are in typically high-stress careers such as lawyers tend to have higher rates of alcohol addiction. They may cope with the stress of their job by drinking and will also be in a culture of alcohol consumption among their coworkers who get drinks after work.
On the other hand, those who are struggling to make ends meet and especially the unemployed are also more likely to drink heavily. When someone has issues of low income they can feel hopeless and start to look for relief from alcohol. Lack of money, work-related stress and the company environment can all contribute to the development of alcohol addiction.
Another significant factor that can cause problems with alcohol is when someone goes through a traumatic experience either in their childhood, adolescence or as an adult. Any type of trauma at any point in a person’s life can lead to substance abuse problems because they may turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many people struggle with processing their trauma and never receive the help that they need to recover.
There are many other aspects of environment and a person’s upbringing that can influence their drinking behavior. Addictions don’t exist in isolation but are a behavior with a number of complex causes that come from different sources. Understanding environmental influences can help shape a person’s understanding of their own recovery and what they can do to live a lifestyle that will help them stay sober long term.