Research indicates that about 28 percent of Americans consume alcohol at levels which increase their risk of becoming addicted to it. However, not everyone within this group becomes an alcoholic. So, who is most at risk?
Below are some risk factors which dramatically increase the chances of an individual becoming an alcoholic.
Despite laws which restrict minors from consuming alcohol, it is common for teenagers to drink alcoholic beverages, especially at parties or other get-togethers. In some cases teenagers are given alcoholic beverages by older siblings who are able to purchase them, or even by their parents. Because alcohol is not completely illegal like heroin, cocaine or other hard street drugs, there is an attitude among many people that it is no big deal if a minor has a sip of beer or wine.
What these people don’t realize is that alcohol can be just as dangerous as any street drug, and those who begin drinking at a young age have an increased chance of becoming addicts, especially if they are abused or come from broken homes.
Although alcohol abuse has been increasing among females, the majority of alcoholics are still men. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has stated that while 8 percent of women meet the criteria for alcohol addiction, roughly 17 percent of men meet the same criteria, more than twice the number of women.
In general, there is no major difference in alcohol usage among the various ethnic groups that live in the United States. However, there are some groups which display a higher susceptibility to alcohol abuse than other groups. For instance, Native Americans display a very high susceptibility to alcohol abuse, while abuse among Asian Americans is very low by comparison.
While the exact reason for alcohol abuse variation among different ethnic groups is not known, it could be due to genetics or the manner in which their bodies metabolize the substance. Among other groups low susceptibility to abuse could result from their culture.
An individual who is suffering from disorders such as depression or anxiety is at an increased risk of abusing alcohol, because such individuals may see the substance as a way of escaping their problems. The same can be said for cigarettes or any other addictive substance. Depression seems to be the dominant disorder that is most commonly seen among alcoholics, but other disorders that can lead to abuse include schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Unlike women, many men who are depressed drink heavily not only to escape from their depression, but to mask its symptoms.
Other people who are susceptible to alcohol abuse include anyone who has impulse control disorders. Research has consistently shown that people who impulsively seek out excitement, novelty or thrills are at a greater risk of abusing alcohol, along with people that have ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, there is no clear correlation that alcohol abuse is associated with socioeconomic classes or groups.