Research Suggests Alcohol Abuse May be Linked to Adverse Childhood

alcohol abuseFor many people drinking is used as a way to cope with stresses in their life. Too often, this leads to over-consumption. It may be problems at work or problems at home that feel unmanageable but, whichever it may be, alcohol abuse is not a healthy answer. What scientists don’t yet understand is why similar situations do not create similar stress responses in different people.

Some people with difficult marriages, stressful jobs or other challenges (health, financial) are able to find ways to cope which don’t involve excessive drinking. For other people, these same circumstances feel beyond control and alcohol abuse provides the escape they crave. What makes the difference?

Researchers hypothesize that part of the answer could reach back into a person’s early childhood. Numerous animal studies show a link between the lack of close parental bonding during infancy and greater alcohol consumption later on. The thought is that long-term stress in childhood could change the way a person’s stress responses operate throughout life. This would leave some individuals more stress-sensitive and therefore, perhaps, more susceptible to later alcohol abuse.

Risk factors are not determiners. Just because a person experiences a stressful childhood doesn’t guarantee that they will abuse alcohol. If they learn healthy coping skills or possess a strong social support network, then alcohol abuse is not a foregone conclusion.

The good news is that it is never too late to learn healthy coping skills. At Family Guidance Center our mental health professionals can help you learn positive ways of dealing with stress in your life. There is no way to remove stress from life, but there are healthy ways to handle stress. Whatever your current stresses may be, let us help you learn to deal with them in a way that will make you feel healthier and stronger.