Before you jump into your own conclusions, this article is not inspired by personal experiences. The only thing I’m addicted to is blogging, the gym and complaining bitterly about how much I struggle to fit in in Sweden.
Unfortunately, not everyone who lives abroad can stay addicted to my type of poison. Alcohol addiction amongst immigrants is commonly due to their environmental and cultural influences. Some areas of the world allow drinking alcohol, even in excess, while others do not. Developing an addiction may be due to feelings of stress, homesickness’, loneliness’, and especially boredom.
Countries around the world promote alcohol on TV, billboards, at sporting events, outside bars and restraints and festivals. It may be much cheaper than the expats’ home country. Alcohol is usually readily available and in certain situations, drinking may make them feel more comfortable. Before moving abroad you may have not prepared yourself for the problems that immigrant life can bring. So what are the reasons behind addiction?
Researchers now say that your vulnerability to alcohol addiction can be genetically determined. If you had a family where addiction is common and you are now exposed to some of the challenges as an expat living abroad, you may be at a higher risk for developing an addiction to alcohol.
Challenges When Living Abroad
Challenges that you may experience living the immigrant lifestyle: being away from friends and family, language barriers, and culture difficulties. Added challenges may be making new friends and finding places where you feel comfortable. As an immigrant living abroad, you may be having a hard time coping with these feelings and/or challenges; alcohol addiction or other substance abuse may be right around the corner.
Difficulties ‘Fitting In’
As an immigrant living abroad, it is normally very hard to ever fully ‘fit in’; this may cause you problems. Not ‘fitting in’ can be difficult to accept, and cause serious problems for you; such as depression and loneliness. You may have a hard time with the countries culture. Things may seem so different from what you are used to back home; everyday life may become overwhelming. You may try to find something similar to your home country and sometimes it is not there. If these problems occur, drinking may make you feel better or help you to ignore the situation. It the problems persist and you continue to drink; alcohol may take over your life.
Searching for Friends
The friends that you once had are now elsewhere in the world. Living abroad you may have few or no friends at all. When seeking social interaction, you may go out to places where you are hoping to meet other expats like yourself, and a popular spot to meet other expats are bars. Having a drink is a great way to make you feel more at ease when conversing. Most of the time it will not be only one drink and if this continues over a period of time can be easy for you to slide into serious alcohol addiction.
Going to Places and Events
As an expat you may venture out at least a few times a week. You may do so because you’re bored, you want to make new friends, or meet other expats living abroad. Once you have found friends abroad, you may frequently go out with them to clubs, bars, festivals, and concerts. These types of places and events usually have large selections of alcohol. If this becomes a habitual routine and you are unable to control your drinking, you may be at risk for developing an alcohol addiction. Over time, a few nights here and there can become a regular habit and developing an addiction to alcohol can slowly creep up on you.
Alcohol Can be Cheap
Alcohol can be cheap, especially in developing countries. It is also plentiful in most countries. In many countries alcohol is sold by attractive women; they normally will tell you how handsome you are and flirt with you. Before you know it you are stumbling out of the bar. At the end of the night it can be less expensive and this can encourage you to return again and again.
A Distraction From Boredom
Maybe you have moved abroad to live your dream of relaxing, or you are retired. Life is good; you have no worries, no job, and nothing to do. This may cause you and other expats alike to become bored; there is a lack of excitement and no interesting activities going on in your life. Alcohol can keep you occupied. It can give you a reason to go out and can keep you entertained. If you are unable to find hobbies that you enjoy doing, you may become bored and look to alcohol for a distraction.