Risk factors for alcoholism include:

  • Steady drinking over time. Drinking too much on a regular basis for an extended period or binge drinking on a regular basis can produce a physical dependence on alcohol.
  • Age. People who begin drinking at an early age are at a higher risk of problem drinking or physical dependence on alcohol.
  • Family history. The risk of alcoholism is higher for people who have a parent or other close relatives who have problems with alcohol.
  • Depression and other mental health problems. It's common for people with a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder to have problems with alcohol or other substances.
  • Social and cultural factors. Having friends or a close partner who drinks regularly could increase your risk of alcoholism. The glamorous way that drinking is sometimes portrayed in the media also may send the message that it's OK to drink too much.
  • Mixing medication and alcohol. Some medications interact with alcohol, increasing its toxic effects. Drinking while taking these medications can either increase or decrease their effectiveness, or even make them dangerous.
Aug. 09, 2012

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.