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Is Alcoholism Hereditary? Genetics & Addiction

With hereditary diseases, the illness stems from the parents’ DNA. Genetic diseases, on the other hand, are illnesses that are caused by mutations in the person’s DNA. Environmental influences are other components that can lead to alcohol addiction, either singularly or as they interact with other factors. These can be related to childhood or upbringing, family environment, social situations, or with a significant other. Genetic makeup only accounts for half of the alcoholic equation.

While there are differences between genetics and heredity, the terms are mostly interchangeable when talking about alcohol addiction. Alcohol-related risks can also be affected by environmental and social factors. Trans-ancestral GWAS of alcohol dependence reveals common genetic underpinnings with psychiatric disorders. Stressors or traumatic events can also lead to someone developing alcoholism.

Genetic Sensitivities to Alcohol

Some genes increase a person’s risk and others decrease the risk directly or indirectly. For example, some people of Asian descent carry a gene variation that alters their rate of alcohol metabolism. This causes them to have symptoms like flushing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat when they drink. People who experience these effects tend not to drink, which helps protect them from developing AUD. Many studies related to the children of alcoholic parents show there are genetic factors that influence alcoholism. In fact, some studies found that approximately 45% to 65% of risks related to alcoholism may be caused by genetic factors.

is alcoholism inherited

At this rate, Reich projected, more than half of the men and women with one alcoholic parent will have developed the disease by age 40. For those with two alcoholic parents, 60-65% will be likely to have it. Among the 202 men, 38% had alcoholic fathers and 21% had alcoholic mothers. Fifty-seven percent had alcoholic brothers and 15% had alcoholic sisters.

Can Our Genes Affect Alcohol Treatment?

” the answer is that tolerance can result from a combination of internal/inherited factors and external or environmental influences. For example, we know that untreated trauma can be a risk factor for alcoholism. If a person is subjected to abuse or neglect during childhood, they may be more likely to develop a problem with alcohol when they grow up. They may also be more likely to act abusively toward their own children. This can increase the likelihood that their children will struggle with alcoholism during adulthood.

As it relates to alcoholism, genes, environment and social interaction can all affect a person’s risk level for alcohol addiction. Still, there isn’t one specific alcoholic gene that makes a person addicted to alcohol. Instead, environmental and social factors play a large role in the outcome. It’s important to remember that while you can’t be born with alcoholism, the likelihood is still much higher than someone who is not predisposed. It’s also much more likely that you will encounter many environmental cues that will increase your chances. The best way to stay clear of developing alcohol use disorder is to understand the risks and learn how to avoid them.

Lifestyle Factors

genes have been identified that have expanded our understanding of the genes and
pathways involved; however, the number of findings to date is modest. First and perhaps foremost, most studies of
alcohol-related phenotypes have been small – hundreds or a few thousand
samples. Most robust associations that have been reported in common disease sober house have
employed tens of thousands of samples and are now beginning to combine several
studies of these magnitude into even larger meta analyses. The alcohol research
community has begun to form larger consortia for meta-analyses and it is anticipated
that with the resulting increase in sample size the number of robust associations
will increase.

However, alcohol can turn into an unhealthy coping mechanism for stress or poor mental health, one that can lead to the development of risky conditions such as addiction. The researchers also found that the genetic factors related to simply drinking alcohol were a little different from the genetic factors that contributed to alcohol dependence. In other words, at least at the genetic level, there’s a difference between simply drinking alcohol, even large amounts of alcohol, and becoming dependent on it.