Things that increase your risk of alcohol dependence include:
- a family history of alcohol dependence
- starting to drink alcohol at a young age
- experiencing abuse, including neglect or trauma in childhood
- being male
- having mental health problems - for example, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- using tobacco, illegal drugs, or prescription medicines
- living in an environment where alcohol is easy to get, or people drink a lot
Even if none of these apply to you, you can still become dependent on alcohol.
Non-urgent advice: Speak with a GP if:
- you are worried that you may be at risk of alcohol dependence
Alcohol dependence in families
Alcohol dependence runs in families. If alcohol dependence is part of everyday life in your family, it can increase your risk of becoming dependent.
Certain genes may also increase the chance of you becoming dependent on alcohol. These genes can be passed from parents to children. But the genes only increase the risk. It does not mean you will become dependent on alcohol if you have the genes.
If there is a history of alcohol dependence in your family, you may need to take extra care with alcohol.
How to reduce the risk of alcohol dependence
Stay within the weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines. Have 2 to 3 alcohol-free days a week and avoid binge drinking.
Alcohol dependence can develop slowly. It can be affected by some or all of the things listed above. It can also develop from drinking often to relax and cope with stress or to wind down.
If you are worried about your alcohol use, take our alcohol test to find out what type of drinker you are.