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Is Alcohol Addiction Genetic?

At Willingway, we believe addiction is disease that can devastate the entire family. Fortunately, we also know through recovery, families can heal together and emerge stronger. By Buddy T

Buddy T is a writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website. “The heritability of alcohol use disorder[…]nd adoption studies.” Psychological Medicine, August 29, 2014. The genetic connection to addiction comes through inherited levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter made in your brain.

Research shows that genetics have somewhere between a 40% and 60% influence on addiction. But does that mean your chance of addiction is essentially a coin flip if you have a family history of SUD? It’s a little more complicated than that, says addiction psychiatrist Akhil Anand, MD. Consistently ranked a top medical school for research, Washington University School of Medicine is also a catalyst in the St. Louis biotech and startup scene.

Can Alcoholism Be Inherited?

So many factors play into whether or not someone may become addicted to a substance. Each of these factors has genes, and genes can come in many different combinations. Detoxing with the assistance of medical supervision, followed by participation in a rehab program, is the best approach for an individual struggling with alcohol addiction.

is alcohol abuse hereditary

Although alcohol is widely consumed, excessive consumption leads to major social, psychological, and physical issues as well as many diseases. Alcoholism is a maladaptive habit of excessive drinking that causes major issues (also known as alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorders). Understanding the role of genetics in addiction can help researchers develop more effective treatments for this complex disease.

The Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder

Those who were not aware of the link were more likely to drink to intoxication than those who knew their risk. Genes that affect alcohol consumption may increase the overall risk by increasing drinking, or reduce risk by reducing drinking. However, for those who have the genes that reduce drinking and drink heavily despite them, the risk increases.

is alcohol abuse hereditary

The study found that individuals who had a family history of alcoholism were more likely to become alcoholics themselves. If you have a family member who suffers from alcoholism, this doesn’t mean that you are going to become an alcoholic yourself. But your odds of developing a dependency may be higher because of this relation. New studies suggest ways to identify those at risk and help prevent them from becoming alcoholics. In these situations, your hereditary behaviors interact with your environment forming the basis of your decisions. If you are more prone to stress, this can make it harder to deal with unhealthy environmental risks, leading you to turn to alcohol to cope.

The “Alcoholic Gene”

When you know you have a genetic predisposition, it’s important to understand the symptoms of addiction. If you find you are exhibiting signs of alcoholism, seek treatment as soon as possible. Partly — heredity is only responsible for about half of one’s risk of alcoholism.

Most people with an alcohol use disorder continue to drink even when doing so causes problems. This pattern of drinking can also lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, is alcohol abuse hereditary and antisocial behavior. The good news is alcohol addiction therapy in Massachusetts, medication, and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help treat alcohol use disorder.

They are also likely to grow up in an environment where they will learn to drink alcohol in response to stress and where alcohol is easily accessible to them. Like a flower can grow taller in better soil, the environment also plays a significant role in a person’s risk for alcohol abuse. The environment a person was exposed to growing up is one important factor. Like a flower can have a genetic predisposition to be tall, a person can have a genetic predisposition to be an alcoholic.

  • Technologies for whole genomic and whole genome sequencing are being used to find uncommon variants as their costs decrease.
  • Like a flower can grow taller in better soil, the environment also plays a significant role in a person’s risk for alcohol abuse.
  • A genetic predisposition is an increased likelihood of developing a particular trait due to genetic makeup.

Some genes are linked specifically to alcohol addiction and others are linked to addiction in general. Cross-addiction is being addicted to more than one substance at a time, or swapping one addiction for another. Children raised in a home where a drinking problem exists learn to model the behavior later in life and have a high risk for developing alcoholism.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a broad term that covers a spectrum of problems ranging from occasional binge drinking to alcoholism. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 16 million adults in the United States suffer from AUD. Common characteristics of alcoholism include an intense craving for alcohol, difficulty controlling intake, and continued use despite negative consequences.

is alcohol abuse hereditary