Alcoholism and developmental psychology

Alcoholism and developmental psychology


Alcoholism and development psychology is significantly associated as can be derived from research. Developmental psychology is a risk factor for alcoholism given that the height of development at teenage significantly causes the high levels of alcohol use among adolescents. On the other hand, Alcoholism affects psychological developments in different ways, especially neurological development. Alcoholism affects changes the way the brain processes information by affecting synaptic neurotransmitters and thus affecting multiple body responses that are guided by the brain. Also, alcoholism affects others are of developmental psychology such as social development by making a person withdraw or aggressive under the influence and affects biological development by affecting body organs.



Developmental psychology explains growth, change process and stability of feeling, thinking and behaviour of a person throughout their lifetime. Developments and growth take place throughout the life of a person although at a declining rate. Psychological development gets concentrated at the early stages of human life which include childhood and adolescents and reduce as one gets older. A person develops in emotional, social, cognitive and biological aspects which make up the study areas of developmental psychology. The process of psychological development is affected by various factors and alcoholism is one of the habits that negatively affect developmental psychology especially in ten early stages of life.  Alcoholism, the heavy drinking of alcoholic substances, influences the process of developmental psychology since alcohol is a neuro-toxic substance and at the same time, alcohol use is a significant developmental behaviour. A summary of research on the relationship between alcoholism and developmental psychology shows the two are significantly related in diverse capacities.

Literature review

Alcohol use, just like developmental psychology, typifies itself ion age patterns. According to Masten, Faden, Zucker and Spear (2009), developmental expectations and shifts are a factor in alcohol use in different stages of development. The authors provide that alcohol use in minimal and rare in the early stages of development that make up childhood. The provision proceeds to show that according to statistics alcohol use accelerate sharply from the age of 12 to 21 during adolescent only to reduce significantly after twenty –one year old onwards (Masten, Fadel, Spear et al., 2009). The increase in alcohol use and probably short term alcoholism in adolescents is attributed to the intense and distinct cognitive, biological and social development pattern that characterizes adolescent stage (Brown et al., 2008). The age is thus a factor in the use and the extent of use of alcohol caused by developmental spurs. Therefore, developmental psychology is a risk factor for alcoholism is adolescent. The expectation is that the behaviour will regulate itself after adolescents by the use at the age can lead to long term use and ultimately chronic alcoholism.

Nevertheless, alcoholism plays a more significant role in developmental psychology than vice versa. Alcohol is actively detrimental to the nervous system. Although developmental psychology covers development in all aspects of life; social, biological and cognitive, the most impacted by alcoholism is cognitive development. According to Sulaj, Kuqo and Vyshka (2015), alcoholism changes the neurological setup of the human brain in the short term and the long run especially with repeated use early in life, The authors explain that the use of alcohol creates a desire to consume again and over time generates a craving for alcohol  (Sulaj, Kuqo and Vyshka, 2015). The need is an effect on the cognitive development that increases the risk of using alcohol over and over and thus making the user alcohol naive (Sulaj, Kuqo and Vyshka, 2015). The nervous system develops an association with the alcohol that causes a person to need more alcohol and make it harder to quit the habit. The effect on neurological development is the reason why addicts require psychological treatment to stop.

Alcoholism affects the cognitive development of a person which further affects other aspects of their and results in behaviours such as dependence, violence and aggressiveness. According to Sullivan, Harris and Pfefferbaum (2010), alcoholism affects the conditioning of the cognitive skills by altering synaptic neurotransmission process such that neurotransmitters respond to alcohol leading to neuro-plasticity (Sullivan, Harris and Pfefferbaum, 2010). The result of the impact of alcoholism on the cognitive skills results in habits such as dependence, addiction and alcohol abuse especially when alcohol use begins early in life and conversely affects other developments such as biological development by causing poor development of internal organs such as the liver.

Alcoholism is also associated with a wide range of conditions that hinder proper developmental psychology. Conditions such as stress and depression are interchangeably factors with alcohol use. According to Keyes et al. (2012), Alcoholism can lead to depression and stress especially for addicts and those who have developed dependence. At the same time, stress and depression cause alcoholism as people try to deal with the stressors. Depression and stress cause distress in the psychological realm and thus hindering the proper development of cognitive and social skills (Keyes, Hatzenbuehler, Grant, & Hasin, 2012).  The stress and depression hinder proper cognitive and social development of the person as one withdraws from the society and thus negatively impacting developmental psychology.


In conclusion, alcoholism and developmental psychology correlate significantly. Developmental psychology is one of the risk factors for alcoholism given its different levels and intensity in different stages of human development. At the same time, alcoholism is a significant factor that influences developmental psychology negatively. Alcohol disrupts psychological developments and causes health changes in the process of development by shifting them towards alcohol use and creating health and mental conditions such as dependence, depression and even causing body organs to under develop. The effect of alcoholism on the human body s aggravated with the length of alcohol use and frequency. Therefore, alcoholism and developmental psychology impact each other and as research shows the correlations is detrimental.




Brown, S. A., McGue, M., Maggs, J., Schulenberg, J., Hingson, R., Swartzwelder, S. and  Murphy, S. (2008). A developmental perspective on alcohol and youths 16 to 20 years of age. Paediatrics121 Suppl 4(Suppl 4), S290–S310. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2243D

Keyes, K. M., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Grant, B. F., & Hasin, D. S. (2012). Stress and alcohol: epidemiologic evidence. Alcohol research: current reviews34(4), 391–400.

Masten, A. S., Faden, V. B., Zucker, R. A., & Spear, L. P. (2009). A developmental perspective on underage alcohol use. Alcohol Research & Health32(1), 3.

Sulaj, Z., Kuqo, A., & Vyshka, G. (2015). The developmental perspective of the chronic alcoholism: Who’s holding the burden of proof?. Journal of Medical Hypotheses and Ideas9(2), 79-85.

Sullivan, E. V., Harris, R. A., & Pfefferbaum, A. (2010). Alcohol’s effects on the brain and behaviour. Alcohol research & health: the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism33(1-2), 127–143.