The causes of alcoholism in women and men, young, old or teenage are the same -- an imbalance or deficiency in the neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine in the reward pathway, but GABA, serotonin, endorphins and others are involved as well. However, the causes of those disruptions to neurotransmitters can vary from person to person.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals the brain uses for communication. You can learn more about this process on the understanding alcohol addiction page and the alcoholism disease page. However, to summarize, these neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating our mood states. Dopamine is our pleasure neurotransmitter, serotonin has a natural antidepressant effect, GABA is a natural tranquilizer and endorphins are natural pain relievers.
When neurotransmitters are not in balance, adequate supply or functioning properly they result in feelings like depression, anxiety, hopelessness, hyperactivity, compulsiveness and obsessiveness and cravings for things like sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs.
To put it more simply, the causes of alcoholism in women, men and teenagers really boils down to one primary cause -- an unconscious and misguided attempt to restore balance to brain chemistry.
Cravings develop because these substances all give the brain a temporary boost in neurotransmitters, that temporarily relieves the negatives feelings, but after the temporary high the neurotransmitters then plummet to an even lower level, which results in more cravings for the substance.
These substances release a very high level of neurotransmitters instead of a small amount that the brain needs. The brain recognizes that the neurotransmitters are too high and responds by reducing its receptors, which means that more of the substance will be required to get the same result. This is commonly called "tolerance."
The longer this cycle continues, the more depleted the neurotransmitters become. Eventually the brain will no longer produce neurotransmitters at all without the substance of choice which may be sugar, carbs, alcohol, or drugs - whichever substance the individual has been using, and dependence has developed.
However, neurotransmitters become deficient, depleted or disrupted because of a variety different factors so these would be considered causes of alcoholism as well. The primary cause of disruption is overstimulation. Overstimulation occurs when the neurotransmitters are triggered to release excessively high amounts repeatedly. Sugar, white flour and other junk food, food additives, preservatives, the over consumption of complex carbohydrates, caffeine, chocolate, nicotine, alcohol and drugs are the most common means of overstimulation.
Other ways that neurotransmitters are disrupted or depleted include nutritional deficiencies, child abuse and neglect, excessive stress, environmental toxins, food allergies and sensitivities, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism and candida overgrowth.
If you'd like to learn how I achieved 23 years of craving-free and uninterrupted sobriety by restoring balance to my neurotransmitters, you can find the comprehensive details in my book, Get Sober Stay Sober: The Truth About Alcoholism.
Once you understand that these are the causes of alcoholism in women, men and all, then you are empowered to overcome your addiction. By making changes in your diet and lifestyle, taking nutritional supplements and addressing each of these conditions, you can restore balance to your neurotransmitters, which will alleviate your cravings to drink, as well as your anxiety and depression and enable you to achieve lasting sobriety.