Is Alcoholism Hereditary? Alcoholism and Genetics Learn More

Do genetics play a large role in developing alcohol use disorder? One question people often ask when a loved one suffers from alcohol use disorder (AUD) 5 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Sober Living House is, “Is alcoholism hereditary? ” After all, it is understandable that they might worry that they or another family member could also develop AUD.

is alcoholism hereditary

A much more complete picture of the numerous genes and pathways that influence risk will be found as larger samples are put together and more variations are examined. Technologies for whole genomic and whole genome sequencing are being used to find uncommon variants as their costs decrease. Families are very useful for separating true positives from the background of individual variations that we all possess in investigations of rare variants. People who are constantly in an environment where alcohol is used or abused are more likely to drink, and may not have the proper guidance needed to moderate their drinking. Those that are consistently at social functions where friends or family members encourage them to drink heavily or use drugs may be influenced by these unhealthy behaviors as well.

Genetics and Addiction: Is Alcoholism Hereditary or Genetic?

If anyone is exposed to large amounts of an addictive substance over an extended period, it is likely that their brain will rewire to crave the substance. Even without a genetic component present, a person can still inherit a predisposition to alcohol use disorder due to the culture they grow up in. Although alcohol consumption does not affect all people equally, according to scientists, different endorphin levels make these individuals more sensitive to alcohol and, therefore, more susceptible to being dependent. The one gene that did stand out, called ADH1B, regulates how the body converts alcohol to a substance called acetaldehyde. A current drug, disulfuram (Antabuse), works on the same metabolic processes as the gene variants identified in this study. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that alcoholism has a genetic component.

is alcoholism hereditary

Alcohol levels in common drinks range
from approximately 5% (1.1 M) for beer, 11-15% for wine (∼3
M) and 40% for spirits (∼9 M). The oral cavity and esophagus are
directly exposed to those levels, and the liver is exposed to high levels from the
portal circulation. Thus it is not surprising that diseases of the GI system,
including cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and cancers of the upper GI tract are affected by
alcohol consumption80-86. Some genes may contribute to an increased susceptibility to addictions
in general. Analyses of RNA expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines suggested that SNPs
within this region on chromosome 5 had cis-acting regulatory
effects on the expression of HTR1A or
IPO11. NIAAA has funded the Collaborative Studies on Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) since 1989, with the goal of identifying the specific genes that influence alcohol use disorder.

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If your family has a history of mental health issues, then those genes further increase your risk for alcoholism. Genetics help determine our traits, behaviors and personality characteristics. Some of these traits are passed down from parents to their children.

  • You could experience a traumatic event and use alcohol to cover up painful feelings.
  • †Note that the official names of several ADH genes have been changed, and the
    literature has been confused by some groups using non-standard names for some of
    the genes29.
  • 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.
  • Genetics and family history are the most correlated with risk of AUD; in fact, genetic risk is about half of the problem, while family history is the other half.

There are numerous contributing factors to alcohol use disorder. Yes, experts say alcohol use disorder can be genetic, but it can also be cultural. For example, here in the United States, binge drinking is quite common as it fits in with cultural norms, especially in the college scene.

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