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Is Alcoholism Genetic or Hereditary?

It’s been discovered that there is a 50% chance of a person having the predisposition to develop an addiction to alcohol if they have someone in their family suffering from alcoholism. If you have someone in your family who is struggling, you may wonder if you’ll develop alcoholism as well. If you have a long history of drinking heavily, ask for help before you stop drinking.

In the future, there may be genetic therapies that help people control how much alcohol they consume; for now, behavioral therapies have proven very effective at managing these chronic health conditions. The NIDA study found that the genes involved in alcohol abuse were concentrated in 51 chromosomal areas in the body. The genes involved are players in a variety of basic body function, such as cell-to-cell communications, the control of protein synthesis, cell-to-cell interactions, and regulation development. It may be that dysregulation in these areas makes a person vulnerable to alcohol or other drug abuse. That fact that the dysregulation or problems can be encoded in the genes means that parents can pass these genes on to their children who in turn pass them on to their children, and so on.

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A genetic tendency to develop an alcohol use disorder may be increased by a family history of alcohol use disorders, with risks for parent-child transmission being higher. It should be explicitly stated that while there is no “gene for alcoholism,” genetic variations do increase risk, and environmental and social factors have a significant impact on the result. Although we are aware that genetics affect risk, we do not yet fully understand how or which specific variations are responsible. As new genes and variations are discovered, a study in this area is ongoing.

As a result, it’s possible for families with a history of alcoholism to pass down those tendencies to later generations. Genetics, as well as social and environmental factors, strongly influence alcohol dependency. There are several other genes that have been shown to contribute to the risk
of alcohol dependence as well as key endophenotypes. The earliest genes were
typically identified as a result of family-based analyses. In most cases, studies
recruited families having multiple members with alcohol dependence; such families
are likely to segregate variants that affect the risk of alcohol dependence. The
most common initial approach was linkage analysis, in which markers throughout the
genome were measured to identify chromosomal regions that appeared to segregate with
disease across many families.

My Boyfriend Has a Drug Addiction

People with fraught relationships and financial stress tend to drink more than people without these issues. If you opt into our newsletter, we promise to respect your privacy. Sign up to get info about the science behind addiction, the latest trends in addiction treatment, mental health awareness, inspirational recovery stories, and much more. Keep track of your daily basis, ask yourself – are my drinking habits safe or risky? It’s tricky to spot the difference between alcohol addiction and having a drink every once in awhile. ‘Harmful drinking’ happens when there is a pattern of drinking which can cause damage to your health.

As such, the terminology currently used for alcoholism is alcohol use disorder (AUD), and instead of alcoholic, we say a person has been diagnosed with AUD. Alcoholism is a medical condition where a person continues to consume alcohol regardless of its effects on them physically, mentally, and socially. The person has a strong desire and 5 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Sober Living House urges to drink and often cannot control themselves once they start drinking. There is no alcoholic gene that people inherit that ultimately determines they will engage in alcohol abuse but rather a variety of genes that can ultimately lead to its development. Your family circumstances and socioeconomic status influence alcoholism risks.

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Since that time, certain genes that contribute to AUD have been discovered, and they correlate with the reward center of the brain and how it develops. An experiment using rats at Linköping University in Sweden discovered that those with reduced expression of the gene GAT-3 become addicted to alcohol. This gene codes for a protein that influences the levels of GABA. This brain chemical that’s widely thought to be involved in alcohol dependence. Furthermore, in collaboration with a co-author from the University of Texas, the researchers took brain samples of deceased people who suffered from alcohol use disorder.

  • DNA influences every square inch of your body, right down to the last particle.
  • You or your family member can get the proper help needed to overcome alcoholism or problematic drinking and are not bound to addiction by heredity or genetics.
  • The hereditary connection to alcoholism is nearly 40 percent to 60 percent without identifying any gender roles, whether you’re more likely to get it from your father or mother, for example.
  • The goal of the research was to better understand how genes may contribute to alcohol problems as a way to develop improved and more personalized treatments.
  • The research team obtained brain tissue from both non-alcoholics and alcoholics and then compared genetic code patterns from each.
  • Even without a genetic component present, a person can still inherit a predisposition to alcohol use disorder due to the culture they grow up in.

A family’s stance on alcohol use can influence a person’s use as well. First, there may be something about identical twin males, genetically speaking, that makes them more likely to express an alcohol use disorder if one twin has one as compared to females (50 percent versus 30 percent). As researchers have noted, other genes (beyond the cluster that NIDA found) can play a role in the development of an alcohol use disorder. Second, if an identical twin has a sister or brother who has an alcohol use disorder, the odds are not that they will also develop one. Among males, it’s 50 percent, not 51 percent, which would mean that the development of an alcohol use disorder was more likely than not.

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