Is Alcoholism Genetic? Heres What You Need to Know Luna
The drug Naltrexone shows to help reduce drinking for some, but not all, patients with AUD. Research shows that patients that have a variation in a specific gene respond positively to the drug while those without the specific gene do not. A better understanding of how genes affect treatment outcomes will help doctors prescribe the treatment that will help each patient. By age 25, 32% of the sons of alcoholic fathers had become alcoholics. Of the alcoholic mothers, half had become alcoholics by age 25. 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.
So, no one knows just how big a factor genetics plays in the development of alcoholism. It is believed that some people are genetically predisposed to having higher levels of tolerance and preference for alcohol, which may make them more likely to become dependent on it. Alcohol tolerance is largely determined by a person’s genes and is known as “alcohol dependence syndrome” or ADS. It is estimated that about half of a person’s risk of developing alcoholism is due to genetic factors. Also, behavioral genes influence your tendency for destructive behavior. Mental illness is also common in people with alcohol use disorder because they use alcohol to cope.
Alcohol Use Disorder and Mental Health
Those who were not aware of the link were more likely to drink to intoxication than those who knew their risk. Factors like environment and your ability to handle stress and situations that may trigger dependency are also important. It is likely that, as with most complex diseases, alcohol dependence is due to variations in hundreds of genes, interacting with different social environments. Genes that affect alcohol consumption may increase the overall risk by increasing drinking, or reduce risk by reducing drinking. However, for those who have the genes that reduce drinking and drink heavily despite them, the risk increases.
Researchers have also discovered that different factors can alter the expression of genes. How your genes are expressed helps determine how they function in your body. The more scientists understand epigenetics, the more they can identify and recognize different individuals’ risks for developing alcohol use disorder. There are also gene variants that can predispose people to develop a mental health disorder like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Alcohol Abuse Is Influenced by Environmental and Genetic 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. There are also countless environmental factors (work, stress, relationships) that may lead to alcoholism. NIAAA has funded the Collaborative Studies on Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) since 1989, with the goal sober house of identifying the specific genes that influence alcohol use disorder. In addition, NIAAA funds investigators’ research in this important field, and also has an in-house research emphasis on the interaction of genes and the environment. NIAAA is committed to learning more about how genes affect AUD so that treatment—and prevention efforts—can continue to be developed and improved.
- It should be explicitly stated that while there is no “gene for alcoholism,” genetic variations do increase risk, and environmental and social factors have a significant impact on the result.
- There is no alcoholic gene that people inherit that ultimately determines they will engage in alcohol abuse but rather a variety of genes that can ultimately lead to its development.
- However, it does mean you should take extra precautions as you could have a strong susceptibility toward alcoholism.