Fifty-percent is genetically determined. There are genes that increase risk and there are some that protect from alcoholism.
Alcohol dependence is associated with psychiatric disorders like anxiety, traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.
Alcoholism occurs more frequently in people with a family history of it. For example a son of a father who is an alcoholic is five times more likely to become an alcoholic.
"For a long time I thought it was my destiny," says Kevin Knox, who has been sober for 14 years. "My father died from alcoholism, so I thought I'm destined to it. And that's obviously not the case."
There are some serious complications due to alcoholism like nausea, vomiting, seizures, and high blood pressure. Even worse conditions can be liver disease or rupture in the veins in your esophagus, literally causing you to bleed to death.
"For the longest time I thought I was only hurting myself and that's not true," adds Knox. "I didn't know about all the nights my mother cried herself to sleep. I didn't know about all the money I cost companies when I didn't show up to work."
To help alcoholic abuse from progressing to dependence ask yourself these questions.
- Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
- Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
Alcoholism is a serious disease. Almost 3 million people die each year from alcohol related conditions -- ranging from fatal car accidents to liver and heart failure. But there is hope and help available. They are some medications to help with alcoholism, but supportive care like AA, rehab, and detox centers help as well.
"All of a sudden one day I realized I haven't even thought about drinking for 3 or 4 months, which is pretty darn neat," says Knox. "I'm really grateful to be sober.
I'm sober and living a good life, a good productive life."
About 8 million people suffer from alcohol dependence in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study this year that back in 2006, excessive alcohol abuse cost the U.S. almost $240 billion.
If you need help, call this helpline phone number: 1-800-662-HELP
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.