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If you’ve noticed that you’ve been drinking more alcohol than usual lately, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why you drink. As a Texas treatment center that’s helped people with alcoholism recover, we understand how difficult it can be to abstain from drinking when you’re out with friends or celebrating something special. But we also know that people often turn to alcohol for the wrong reasons. We’re exploring some reasons why people choose to drink.
Why do some people drink alcohol while others don’t? Although everyone is different, there are some common trends regarding alcohol use that you may have noticed yourself. When it comes to your drinking habits, it’s important to analyze why you drink and what causes you to drink. Do you occasionally drink when you go out with friends, or do you find yourself turning to wine or alcohol whenever you’re stressed? Often those who begin to rely on alcohol for emotional support find themselves in need of alcohol withdrawal treatment. The reasoning behind your drinking habits can reveal some underlying issues that you may not be aware of. Below are nine reasons why people drink alcohol.
Sometimes people drink because they recall one good experience they had with alcohol or other people’s experiences with drinking influenced them. Your previous experiences with drinking shape your current values and the expectations you place on drinking. People's positive past experiences with drinking may motivate them to continue drinking, while negative experiences may discourage them from doing so.
Another reason why people drink alcohol is that they’re stressed. Whether it’s work, school, or family, everyone with responsibilities has experienced stress at least once in their lives. Many people drink alcohol when they’re stressed or anxious because it’s a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it relaxes the mind and body. Alcohol affects the brain by reducing nerve activity, dulling the senses, and producing feelings of relaxation and calm. While this may be helpful at the moment, turning to drink every time you feel stressed can create an unhealthy pattern of drinking that can spiral out of control. Many people who first turned to alcohol as a temporary solution found themselves receiving addiction treatment to quit.
Alcohol has been a part of socializing for centuries. In ancient times, kings and emperors would host feasts where large amounts of wine was served to ensure guests were always “happy,” which still holds true today, although a tad bit more modern. Whether you’re going to a bar or a club for a night out with friends, you’ll find plenty of people drinking alcohol. People drink while they’re partying or socializing because it relaxes the body and eases tension. However, people become intoxicated or drunk too often when drinking while socializing, which can lead to risky behavior like driving under the influence or having unprotected sex.
Environmental factors like home environment, friends, culture, and social media all influence our behavior, including our drinking habits. If you grew up in a home environment where drinking was the norm, then you’re more likely to drink when you’re older. If you hang out with friends who enjoy drinking, you’re more likely to drink yourself. Growing up in a culture that involves drinking or even encourages it, as well as frequent exposure to alcohol-related content on social media, can all influence your decision to drink. In that case, be mindful of who you spend time with and pay attention to how drinking has affected others before getting into the habit yourself.
Alcohol is pretty accessible. It’s sold in nearly every supermarket, and drinking at family gatherings and other social settings is very common. We often hear of young kids who had their first sip of beer at a young age, further illustrating how early many of us are exposed to alcohol.
Alcoholism is genetic. Although having this gene doesn’t guarantee that you’ll develop an alcohol use disorder, it does increase your risk. Additionally, having a family history of alcoholism is often passed down through learned behavior. When we’re exposed to a family member who was always drinking, we’re more likely to follow in their footsteps and inherit their habits.
Peer pressure happens among any age group. It’s one of the most prominent reasons for drinking. Oftentimes, we’re convinced by our friends or close family to try something new or give in to drinking because “it’s fun.” Many young teens and adults begin drinking because they want to fit in or don’t want to be isolated from their friend groups. This happens mostly among young teens because they’re often in an experimental stage of life during which they’re often heavily influenced by their friends.
Social norms are the general behavioral expectations of a community. Drinking alcohol is a social norm among many communities as well as cultures. Alcohol is even expected to be served even at some weddings and certain religious rituals. People who grow up in communities or families where drinking alcohol is a daily habit or often a part of celebrations are more likely to drink.
Generally, people drink alcohol to have fun. Many people enjoy being drunk or “buzzed” because it makes them feel happy. People also like to drink alcohol to celebrate with friends or family for the same reason. People drink to have fun at parties, nightclubs, barbecues, weddings, and more because they believe that alcohol enhances their experiences. However, heavy drinking can have harmful short and long-term effects. Being drunk isn’t fun, especially when you have a hangover the next day. Making it a habit to drink heavily on the weekends can lead to a more vicious cycle of drinking in the future. Moreover, many people begin to rely on drinking alcohol just to boost their mood or enjoy things, which is also dangerous and can facilitate alcohol dependence in the long run.
Ultimately, our drinking habits are heavily influenced by our exposure to alcohol growing up. Even adults who are later exposed to alcohol may be influenced to start drinking or drink more. Leaning on alcohol to have a good time can create an unhealthy pattern of binge drinking and partying, which can lead to short-term issues, like unprotected sex or driving under the influence, and long-term problems like alcohol dependence. Alcoholism doesn’t happen radically in one day but develops gradually over time as your drinking habits become more and more severe.