CAUSES OF ALCOHOLISM
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Causes of Alcoholism
A complex mixture of genetic and environmental factors influences the risk of the development of alcoholism. Genes that influence the metabolism of alcohol also influence the risk of alcoholism, and may be indicated by a family history of alcoholism. One paper has found that alcohol use at an early age may influence the expression of genes which increase the risk of alcohol dependence. Individuals who have a genetic disposition to alcoholism are also more likely to begin drinking at an earlier age than average. Also, a younger age of onset of drinking is associated with an increased risk of the development of alcoholism, and about 40 percent of alcoholics will drink excessively by their late adolescence. It is not entirely clear whether this association is causal, and some researchers have been known to disagree with this view.
Severe childhood trauma is also associated with a general increase in the risk of drug dependency. Lack of peer and family support is associated with an increased risk of alcoholism developing. Genetics and adolescence are associated with an increased sensitivity to the neurotoxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse. Cortical degeneration due to the neurotoxic effects increases impulsive behaviour, which may contribute to the development, persistence and severity of alcohol use disorders. There is evidence that with abstinence, there is a reversal of at least some of the alcohol induced central nervous system damage. The use of cannabis was associated with later problems with alcohol use. Alcohol use was associated with an increased probability of later use of tobacco, cannabis, and other illegal drugs.
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