Is alcoholism inherented?

Is alcoholism inherented?

This question worries many people.

Human genetics identifies our traits. DNA determines to some extent our physical characteristics (for example, facial features) as well as our behavior (for example, aggression). These genes run in the blood. However, these features are also altered to some extent by self-care, self-development, nutrition, injuries, etc.

Studies of about 5,000 twins have shown that genes are responsible for about half the risk of addiction to alcohol and other psychoactive substances. Therefore, genes alone do not determine whether a person develops addiction. Children can only inherit alcoholic tendencies.

Svetlana Borinskaya, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Head of the Genome Analysis Laboratory at the Institute of General Genetics named after N. I. Vavilov RAS talks about the relationship between genes and alcoholism:

«Nature has not put in us a ‘gene for alcoholism’, but there are genes that increase the propensity to drink alcohol. Each of these genes ‘works’ with a slight effect. There are already several dozens of them, but none is defining», says Borinskaya.

For example, if a child lived in a prosperous family, where he saw respect for the family, support and love, but someone abused alcohol in the family, the genes would ‘sleep’. And an unfavorable environment for a child can turn into a negative side and ‘wake up’ these genes at a conscious age.

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    «Alcoholic gene»

    There is no single gene responsible for alcoholism. There are hundreds of genes in a person’s DNA that can increase his/her risk of developing a disorder connected with abuse. Identification of these genes is difficult because each plays a small role in a much larger picture. However, studies have shown that certain combinations of genes have a strong bond with alcoholism.

    Behavioral genes that can influence the propensity to alcoholism can also be transmitted. There is a clear link between substance abuse problems and mental health problems such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression.

    Mental disorders can be hereditary (and environmental), which sheds some light on the complex relationship between genetics and addiction.
    A dual diagnosis (or more than two comorbid conditions) is an abrupt and dangerous situation. This is when alcohol use and mental health problems tend to aggravate each other.

    A dual diagnosis with one of the alcohol use disorder is best treated with an alcohol and mental health treatment program. Such a program would target comorbid conditions and both should be treated with an integrated approach.

    Recommendations for preventing the problem

    Knowing that addiction can be prevented and cured allows symptoms to be monitored in order to stop its development.

    Here are some recommendations to get you started with the healing process:

    • Knowledge of family anamnesis of alcoholism;
    • Determining if your current situation is in the ‘high risk’ category;
    • Knowing the common symptoms of alcohol abuse and taking action when they arise;
    • Informing a person with mental health condition about the dangers of dual diagnosis.

    These preventive measures are easy to write down, but you need to understand that they may not relate to you unless someone you know develops a substance use disorder.

    When it comes to addiction, psychologists recommend being compassionate but proactive and seek immediate help if your family’s drinking problem has escalated into a dangerous situation.

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    Do you risk becoming an alcoholic?

    Listening to scientists, you need to understand that the presence of ‘risk variants of genes for alcoholism’ does not mean that you are doomed to be an addict. An important role is played by the conditions in which a person grew up and his social environment in adulthood.

    Sometimes people who are genetically predisposed to alcoholism live quite well without suffering from this addiction. Therefore, statements that a person has become an alcoholic, because ‘such is his physiology and nothing can be done about it, it is useless to resist’ – this is a desire to find an excuse.

    In the matter of lifestyle, willpower, personal choices and goals each of us want to achieve play an important role.

    The fact that someone may have a strong predisposition to alcoholism does not mean that he or she has put up with that fate. No one can control their genetic makeup, but everyone can take steps to prevent addiction.

    According to research, some of the best ways to tame genetic predisposition to full-blown alcohol addiction include:

    • Strengthening of strong family ties;
    • Stress management;
    • Understanding the symptoms of addiction.

    If you are in a crisis situation and are starting treatment for alcohol addiction, it is important to remember that personal self-motivation plays a huge role in this process. Find a cure today.

    It is important to seek help as soon as possible. Counseling and support can help you cope with social environmental factors that may contribute to a future alcohol problem. If you already have a problem, there are outpatient and inpatient programs that can help.

    If you want to change yourself or your family for the better, contact us today.

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