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Is Alcoholism Genetic? Heres What You Need to Know

Genes can also play a role in the type of treatment we need to overcome alcoholism. Understanding this better can help someone get the type of treatment they need to overcome alcoholism. Though much of the research on substance use disorders and genetics has centered around alcohol dependency, studies suggest a genetic factor in addiction across the board. Researchers have found How to Choose a Sober House: Tips to Focus on genetic components in addictions to heroin, prescription opioids, tobacco use, sedatives, cocaine, stimulants, cannabis, and other substances. Just like alcohol addictions, all substance use disorders have environmental influencers as well. When the person drinks alcohol, for example, they may feel relaxed and happy compared to the stress they feel when they are sober.

Is alcoholism a learned behavior?

From this point of view, alcoholic drinking is a sequence of learned behaviors acquired in the same manner as any other learned behaviors: through imitating role models, as a result of experiencing the positive effects of alcohol (e.g., reducing anxiety, relieving pain, or enhancing sociability), or based on …

These are all key questions to ask when approaching alcohol consumptions, and each question will be detailed and explained throughout this informative piece. When a partner enables alcohol use by providing it to their loved ones is another risk factor. In the same way, families may cater to an alcoholic’s needs or not confront them about their drinking behavior, which can lead to a greater chance of developing alcoholism. Additionally, as children get older parents will encourage them to try alcohol. The earlier a person begins to start drinking, the more likely they will develop an alcohol use disorder. ADS is caused by variations in several genes that influence the way alcohol is metabolized and is linked to an increased craving for alcohol, higher levels of tolerance as well as an increased risk of physical dependence.

Keep Track of How Your Children Spend Their Time

The symptoms of each can also look vastly different from one person to the next. Additionally, not all mental health issues are the same; some mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, require vastly different considerations than anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and other co-occurring disorders. A dual diagnosis (or a diagnosis of two or more co-occurring disorders) is a precipitous, dangerous situation where alcohol use and mental health issues are prone to exacerbate one another. The exact genes aren’t known as there are many genes responsible for a person getting attracted to alcohol dependence.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that alcoholism has a genetic component. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children of alcoholics are four times more likely than other children to become alcoholics. Yet, environmental factors could be a factor https://www.healthworkscollective.com/how-choose-sober-house-tips-to-focus-on/ in many of those cases as well. Co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues are extremely common –  roughly 50 percent of people with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. Self-medication for mental health problems is common and can lead to addiction.

Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder

If you have a parent or close family member who struggles with alcoholism, you’re much more likely to have a problem with alcohol abuse than your counterparts. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that genes account for about half of your risk for developing an alcohol addiction. However, developing an alcohol use disorder typically involves a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. A family history of alcoholism does put you at higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become addicted to alcohol or that you can’t break the cycle of addiction. Alcohol use disorder, the medical term for alcoholism and alcohol abuse, has been linked to some specific genes. Having a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, who struggles with alcohol use disorder increases the chances that a person will also struggle with the same addiction.

For these people, alcohol or other drugs is often used as a means to self-medicate against certain mental health symptoms. It is estimated that while there are over a dozen genes that contribute to a tendency towards alcohol abuse, each on its own shows a limited correlation to alcoholism without environmental stressors. Therefore, the more genes present, the higher the likelihood of developing AUD, and thus we can infer that genetics do play some role. As an article published on Psychology Today discusses, studies of twins have revealed helpful information about the connection between genes and an alcohol use disorder. In specific, studies that compare fraternal twins and identical twins can be particularly insightful.

Tips to Avoid Alcoholism When It Runs in the Family

†Note that the official names of several ADH genes have been changed, and the
literature has been confused by some groups using non-standard names for some of
the genes29.

  • The topic of genetics and an alcohol use disorder only underlines the complexity of alcohol abuse.
  • For these people, alcohol or other drugs is often used as a means to self-medicate against certain mental health symptoms.
  • In specific, studies that compare fraternal twins and identical twins can be particularly insightful.
  • Large-scale biobanks, such as the MVP, offer the potential to link genes to health-related traits documented in electronic health records with greater statistical power than can ordinarily be achieved in genome-wide studies.
  • Variants in the gene speed the conversion to acetaldehyde — a compound linked to unpleasant side effects from drinking — and that compound has a protective effect, making people less likely to drink heavily or become alcoholics.

One of the biggest environmental factors is growing up in a home where alcohol is consistently available. If a child sees their parents drinking, or if there is no parental supervision over the consumption of alcohol, then it is likely that they may develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol later on in life. Children begin to see this as just another daily activity and therefore are less concerned about overall risk. There are also gene variants that can predispose people to develop a mental health disorder like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Individuals who suffer from mental illness often turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. For this reason, a person may end up developing an alcohol use disorder to self-soothe their condition.