Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder’s Causes and Symptoms


AUD teens

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder’s Causes and Symptoms

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we believe in shedding light on prevalent mental and behavioral health issues affecting families, adolescents and adults. One such issue is alcohol use disorder, a medical diagnosis reflecting persistent, problematic alcohol consumption. The consequences of AUD can permeate every corner of someone’s life, affecting their health, work, relationships and more. Read on to learn more about this condition and how professional counseling can help.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

AUD is a chronic brain disease characterized by an inability to stop or control how much you drink, even when it causes multiple problems. Alcohol abuse changes the brain’s built-in reward system, making it harder for someone with a drinking habit to feel pleasure from other sources.

While the disorder sounds intimidating, there’s reason to hope. Regardless of the severity, evidence-based treatments can help you or a loved one achieve and maintain recovery.

Alcohol Use Disorder by the Numbers

Statistics from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health illuminate the gravity of AUD:

  • Approximately 28.6 million adults (11.3%) aged 18 and over had AUD in 2021.
  • An alarming 894,000 adolescents between ages 12 to 17 (3.4%) were grappling with AUD.

The numbers underscore the importance of early intervention, especially for teens and young adults. A young person’s brain continues developing until around age 25. The younger someone starts drinking alcohol, the more they risk having problems with their memory, learning, judgment, impulse control and decision-making skills. They may also develop a substance abuse problem later in life.    

Two brain areas most affected by early alcohol use include the hippocampus and prefrontal lobe. Damage to these regions can cause them to shrink, impairing cognitive abilities.

Factors Increasing the Risk of AUD

While addiction is a complex illness involving an array of variables, researchers have identified several elements that heighten a person’s risk of developing AUD.

  • Early alcohol consumption: Starting to drink before age 15 can multiply the chances of experiencing AUD, especially for young women.
  • Genetic predisposition and family history: Genetics play a part, with heritability making up about 60% of the risk. There’s also an interplay between genes and environment, including observing parents’ drinking patterns.
  • Mental health and traumatic experiences: Conditions such as depression, ADHD, PTSD and a history of childhood trauma increase the susceptibility to AUD.

Is Recovery Possible?

Many people living with AUD find their way back to health and happiness. While setbacks can occur, therapeutic consulting can help you and your family heal.

If you or someone close to you struggles with AUD, remember you’re not alone. At R&A Therapeutic Partners, our referring professionals are here to guide you at every step of the way. Together, we can navigate the challenges and find a path to recovery. We work with numerous treatment centers nationwide to provide you with various options, so you don’t have to make these difficult decisions alone. Reach out to request help today.

At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.

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