Alcoholism…Are Genes to Blame?

Are issues with alcohol a future risk for you? Have you ever questioned yourself and thought, “Am I an alcoholic?”

Many Americans drink alcohol, but can have one drink and put it down for the rest of the evening. Not everyone who drinks develops a dependence on alcohol. However, many individuals are concerned about their chances of struggling with alcohol dependence due to their genetic predisposition. The question is, “How much do genes truly affect the likelihood of becoming an alcoholic?”

Research has proven genes are responsible for nearly half of the risk for developing alcohol use disorder. But, there is not one specific gene which contributes to alcoholism. Recent science has determined that, there are variations of genes which contribute to alcoholism and addiction.

Family Behaviors Contributing to Alcoholism

Findings show children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency or problems. Genes are not the only thing children inherit from their parents. Behaviors as well as how parents treat their children throughout childhood affect their risk for alcoholism. Studies indicate the following factors of family life which increases the risk of developing alcohol dependency:

  • A parent who suffers from severe alcoholism
  • An alcoholic parent who also struggles with psychological problems or depression
  • Both parents struggle with alcohol and/or drug dependency
  • Violence and aggressive conflict within the home

But the news is not all bad! Many children who raised in an alcoholic home do not develop drinking problems. Although the risk is higher, it does not mean it will to happen to you. If you are concerned that your family’s history of alcoholism puts you at greater risk, there are some preventative measure you can take:

  • Avoid underage drinking: Not only is it illegal, but research shows as a result of genetic and environmental factors, drinking at a young age greatly increase the risk for alcoholism later in life
  • Drink moderately as an adult: Those with a family history of alcohol dependency should always approach drinking in moderation carefully. Maintaining moderate drinking may be harder for those who come from a family with history of alcoholism. Once the line is crossed from moderate drinking to heavy alcohol consumption, the risk for social and medical issues increase drastically.
  • Talk to a health care professional: Openly discuss your concerns with a doctor, nurse or health care provider. They have various resources and can recommend preventative treatment to help you avoid alcohol dependency. If you have already begun to drink and have concerns about the amount of alcohol you consume, a professional will be able to asses where you are and suggest options of ways to cut back and how to proceed.

It is important to be aware of your family history, be on guard and closely watch your drinking habits. Even those who come from a troubled home or a predisposition to alcoholism from family genes can live a happy and healthy life beating the odds of this disease!