Are some people more likely to become an alcoholic?

Who is ‘The Most Likely’ to Develop Alcohol Problems?

Alcohol drinking is a habit partaken by most people – regardless of age, race, or creed. It is a social lubricant for most – and a scapegoat from many.

Is a specific group of people more prone to having drinking problems?

Who is more susceptible to alcoholims

While those who drink can get hooked to alcohol, some individuals are more likely to be addicted to booze. If you belong to any of these categories, then you might just have a higher tendency of developing alcoholism:

Gender: Men

In terms of gender, men are more vulnerable to develop an alcohol addiction. Here are some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:

Compared to women…

  • Men are two times more likely to binge drink. 
  • Men have higher rates of alcohol-related confinements and deaths.
  • Men are more likely to commit suicide, a fatal activity which may be driven by excessive drinking. 

There are many theories as to why men are more likely to be alcoholics. For one, men are natural risk-takers, which may lead them to drink more alcohol than needed. The fact that men have a higher tolerance to alcohol may also explain their predisposition to alcoholism. They consume more and more alcohol to get the ‘kick’ they need, and this eventually leads to alcohol addiction. 

Age: Starting early at 15

Although you need to be 21 years old to legally drink in the United States, this statute has not stopped many youths from engaging in underage drinking. In fact, kids as young as 12 years old have admitted to drinking that early on. 

According to the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA), at least 29.8% of teens have had a drink by the age of 15. And while they don’t drink as much as the adults do, they tend to drink more on one occasion – an activity most know as binge drinking. 

What’s alarming about these early starters is they tend to consume more alcohol as they age. The same report has shown that those who start drinking at age 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence sooner or later. 

As to why young people have the desire to drink early, the NIAAA has identified stress, pressure, and the increased need for ‘independence’ as the main reasons. 

Race: Native Indian Americans and Alaskans

According to a study by Ehlers and Gizer, Native American Indians and Alaskans are more likely to be alcohol dependent. It is believed that minorities are more prone to this type of condition because of the following factors:

  • Early exposure to drinking
  • Personal or historical trauma
  • Genetic tendencies
  • Limited access to housing, education, healthcare, and employment 

State: North Dakota

Of the 50 US States, North Dakota takes the top spot as the state with the highest number of binge drinkers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 25% of adult North Dakotans report to drinking more than 5 servings (for men) and 4 servings (for women) on any one occasion. 

Expectedly, North Dakota also has the highest number of alcohol-related driving deaths at 46.7%. 

A University of Pittsburgh study might hold the answer as to why North Dakotans drink more. The results may also explain why the cold states of Wisconsin, Washington DC, Montana, and Iowa are included in the top 5 as well. 

According to the researchers, alcoholism is more pronounced in areas with lower temperatures (aka colder) and fewer hours of sunshine. Alcohol, after all, has a ‘warming’ effect on the body.

 With the state having an average temperature of 37 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit on a normal day, and 2 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest months, it comes as no surprise why North Dakotans choose to drink excessively. 

Sexual Orientation: LGBTQ

As if the obstacles they face daily are not hard enough, studies have shown that the LGBTQ people are more likely to develop drinking issues as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control, they tend to lesser inhibitions when it comes to drinking – a problem that can persist later on in life. 

Additionally, the CDC cites drinking as an LGBTQ person’s possible reaction towards violence, discrimination, and homophobia. 

Income Bracket: High-Earning People

In a Gallup consumption habits poll, it was seen that the richer you are, the more likely you are to become an alcoholic. Figures show that 78% of those who earn $75,000 or more per year – while 67% of those in the $30,000 to $74,999 income range – admit to drinking. As for those earning less than $30,000 per year, only 45% report themselves to be alcohol consumers.  

Financial resources prove to be the number 1 factor why the rich tend to drink more. Additionally, they tend to go out and socialize more – activities that usually involve alcohol drinking. 

Education: College Graduates 

The same Gallup poll also reported alcoholism as more prevalent in more educated individuals. Of the sample population, 80% of college graduates and 64% with some college education admit to occasional alcohol drinking. This is in contrast to the 52% who have only finished some high school education.

College graduates may be more likely to develop alcoholism because of the drinking culture in school. Most view drinking as a necessary part of the college experience. 

A study by the National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse has shown that 55% of the surveyed population admit to having drunk alcohol within the past month. As much as 1 out of 3 reports to have been binge drinking during the said timeframe.  

After graduation, they become employed in workplaces where social drinking is a common thing. Add to that, they have to engage in business meetings and social gatherings where alcohol is always present for the taking.

Occupation: Miners 

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has shown that in terms of profession, employees from the mining industry are more likely to develop drinking problems. Results showed that 17.5% of workers from the said industry admit to having consumed alcohol within a month of the survey period. Researchers attribute the difficult nature of the profession as being the top reason why miners drink after they clock out from work. 

Coming in a close second at 16.5% is the people from the construction industry, whose reason for drinking may be the same with mining workers. 


Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)

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