If you have a parent or close family member who struggles with alcoholism, you’re much more likely to have a problem with alcohol abuse than your counterparts. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that genes account for about half of your risk for developing an alcohol addiction. However, developing an alcohol use disorder typically involves a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. A family history of alcoholism does put you at higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become addicted to alcohol or that you can’t break the cycle of addiction. While children of alcoholics have a two to four times higher chance of issues with alcohol abuse later in life, a survey in 2011 found that only about 46% of them actually developed an alcohol use disorder. A partial explanation is that perhaps they are inheriting the genes for alcoholism, or it could be explained by the environment that led to a specific expression of those genes.
A dual diagnosis (or a diagnosis of two or more co-occurring disorders) is a precipitous, dangerous situation where alcohol use and mental health issues are prone to exacerbate one another. The study found that among identical male twins, if one had an alcohol use disorder, there was a 50 percent likelihood that the other would at some point in his lifetime. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) often seems to run in families, and we may hear about scientific studies of an “alcoholism gene.” Genetics certainly influence our likelihood of developing AUD, but the story isn’t so simple. According to research conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, there may be a whole network of genes at least partially responsible for alcoholism. The research team obtained brain tissue from both non-alcoholics and alcoholics and then compared genetic code patterns from each.
Alcohol use disorder is the medical term for someone dealing with alcoholism. The medical community shifted to a broader definition of what constitutes alcohol use disorder in 2013. As more people are being diagnosed with it, health care providers are investigating whether genetic testing may lead to better treatment options.
Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions account for the remainder of the risk. Think about your relatives, starting with your immediate family members. Has anyone had a problem with drugs, alcohol, or other substances in the past?
Our hereditary behaviors interact with our environment to form the basis of our decisions. Some people are more sensitive to stress, making it harder sober house to cope with an unhealthy relationship or a fast-paced job. Some people experience a traumatizing event and turn to alcohol to self-medicate.
A study in Sweden followed alcohol use in twins who were adopted as children and reared apart. The incidence of alcoholism was slightly higher among people who were exposed to alcoholism only through their adoptive families. However, it was dramatically higher among the twins whose biological fathers were alcoholics, regardless of the presence of alcoholism in their adoptive families. It is easy to see these preventative measures on paper, and we understand they might not resonate until someone you know has developed a substance use disorder. With addiction, we always recommend being compassionate yet proactive and to seek alcohol addiction help immediately if the problems with alcohol in your family have progressed into a dangerous situation.
This makes a strong argument for the learned behavior theory but in reality, there may be other influences that might predispose a person to alcohol addiction. The best way to avoid alcoholism is to abstain from alcohol consumption. It is important to understand your risk factors for developing an addiction, such as a family history of alcoholism and environmental influences. You can also develop strategies for managing stress and other triggers that may lead you towards drinking too much or indulging in binge drinking. If you have a genetic risk of developing an alcohol addiction and have exhibited signs of this disorder, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Counseling and support can help tackle social and environmental factors that could contribute to an alcohol problem in the future.
Around 20,000 different genes are thought to be present in each human. The exact genes aren’t known as there are many genes responsible for a person getting attracted to alcohol dependence. At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.
Alcohol use disorder and alcoholism can strain daily life, whether it is enjoying every moment or connecting with those around you. It is also significant in helping your child begin to develop strong emotional regulation skills. Without strong problem-solving skills, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by negative emotions and problems, which can encourage unhealthy alcohol use. Taking the time to help your child develop interpersonal and problem-solving skills can help provide them healthy tools for success. By learning to communicate better, your child will feel more comfortable expressing their feelings and the troubles in their life.