Genetics And Alcoholism

ByMichele Washington

Genetics And Alcoholism

It is not uncommon for alcoholism to run in families, like lots of other traits. Studies have shown that there is a bit of a genetic component when it comes to addiction. Hereditary connections do exist when it comes to this problem though we don’t have a ton of information on it yet.

Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

The gene to cause alcoholism has yet to be identified. But studies have shown that genetics do influence alcoholism when tested on animals. We just don’t know how much they affect it just yet.

Children of alcoholics are four times as likely as other children to fall into alcoholism, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

A Genetic Component

There have been good examples of alcoholism having a genetic component if you look at families, twins, and adoption studies. The DRD2 gene was the first gene that was proven to have a connection to alcoholism.

There was also a Sweden study about twins in which they were adopted and raised apart. Alcoholism risks went up a bit when their adoptive parents struggled with it, but it weighed higher if their original birth parents were alcoholics.

There isn’t a conclusive answer as to what causes this, but it is clear that something does. Genetic factors and behaviors do affect. Some are direct and some are indirectly related.

Fruit Fly Similarities

There was another study done where fruit flies were used to test for genetic alcoholism. Fruit flies respond the same way to alcohol and humans do and seem to have a similar resistance interestingly enough.

The study was a kind of rough example of what it can mean when it comes to alcoholism in humans.

Genetically Sensitive To Alcohol

There was also a study involving mice in which scientists bred some that were genetically sensitive to alcohol and some mice that were not. They reacted differently when given alcohol.

The mice sensitive to alcohol happened to get drunk and pass out very quickly. The mice not sensitive to alcohol were able to consume more of it and handle it better before they passed out.

Genetic Risk Does Not Mean It Is Your Destiny

Both environmental and genetic factors influence your chances of alcoholism. Hopefully one day it would be possible to trace addiction back to a gene or combination of genes. This would help identify who might be at risk for developing alcoholism.

If we can tell who is more likely to abuse alcohol, there can be steps to prevent it, plus the person would know that. Preventative measures work best in most cases, and this would be a game changer.

If you have a close family member, who suffers from alcoholism that doesn’t mean you’re going to as well. You may be able to drink your whole life casually without issues. It just means you have a higher chance of developing a problem.

Genes only affect half the risk of developing alcoholism anyways, so they definitely don’t decide your future.

About the author

Michele Washington administrator