Is Alcoholism Genetic?

Alcoholism affects not only addicts, but also their families and friends. Information is key in dealing with this affliction. Researchers study genetics so they can understand this disease better. They want to know how genes affect addiction. Breaking down this information into smaller parts helps people avoid and recover from alcoholism.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found that around half of alcoholic tendencies come from genetic influence. This means that other factors like environment and peers play a similarly important role. More research is currently being done to see which genes are specifically associated with alcoholism.

Though alcoholic tendencies are not necessarily directly passed on by parents, there are some studies that indicate a link. According to an article in the New York Times, college students who are children of alcoholics are less likely to be impaired by alcohol. Their physical responses and reflexes are less impacted by the consumption of alcoholic beverages. It’s somewhat difficult to say how much of this has been caused by a lifetime of watching parents drink, but the studies do point to alcohol playing a role.

For this reason, it’s beneficial to look at adopted children raised by non-drinking parents. Between 30 and 40 percent of them go on to become alcoholics. This data can be examined to show that there is a strong genetic factor for alcoholism.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at how alcohol deconstructs DNA. They found that alcohol was breaking down the structures that house DNA. Knowledge of this is beneficial for knowing what to expect in regard to withdrawal and sobriety. Successfully becoming free of addiction and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key, and knowledge of DNA can help point professionals in the right direction.

Just as some genes are associated with alcoholism, others are associated with traits like managing anxiety and making good decisions. These genes work in concert with genes that affect drinking. Whether this affects someone in a good or bad way varies from person to person. There is hope to be found in the fact that when it comes to addiction, people are not completely governed by genetics. Things like lifestyle management and a supportive environment are at least as important.

Alcoholism causes damage to the body and can create turmoil in almost every area of life. Studies are continually providing informing about DNA and how it affects humans. Using what is known about genetic biology, medical professionals can prevent and treat alcoholism. The intersection of genes and life circumstances is complex.

Signs of an alcohol problem include changes in behavior, changes in relationships and changes in alcohol tolerance. Some people experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Initial evaluations include studying their behavior and doing physical examinations. The next step is the road to recovery which may include relapses, as it’s not necessarily a smooth process. To get help for a person you suspect has an alcohol problem, contact a rehabilitation center or support group today.

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