Is Alcoholism Inherited?

Alcoholism is a disease like any other medical condition. People who are alcoholics are patients that should be seen not only by a therapist, but by medical doctors as well. It has the common symptoms of craving alcohol, loss of control with the inability to stop drinking, physical dependence on alcohol, and tolerance. There will be a need of imbibing more and more alcohol to get the same affect from it. Like any disease or condition, patients may wonder whether alcoholism is inherited, or passed on from generation to generation. If you had alcoholic parents, are you more likely to be alcohol dependent?

Genetics and Alcoholism

Genetic factors do seem to play a part in influencing alcoholism. Scientific studies have found that there is a four-time greater risk of developing problems with alcohol than the greater population if you had alcoholic parents. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that there is also a higher risk of developing emotional and behavioral issues if there are alcoholic parents. While there is that genetic predisposition, it is not absolute. Fewer than 50 percent of people who are alcoholic have alcoholic parents, so while the risk is there many find ways to counter-act the inherited traits.

Other Risk Factors

There will be a greater risk of developing an alcohol dependence if they are in a family where there is severe alcohol abuse, aggression and violence, drug abuse, and depression. These factors raise the risk factor for the children in the household. So while genetics may show that you have a higher risk, if you live your life away from the alcohol-fueled lifestyle you have less of a chance of developing than those that have a family with other factors.

Lowering the Genetic Probability

There are ways to lower the risk factors for developing alcoholism. Many are common sense advice, but for those with alcoholic family members, diligence will need to be followed so as to not follow that path. Do not drink while underage, as the lower the age you begin drinking the higher the risk of alcohol problems. Only drink in moderation as an adult, preferably no more than a single glass a day. Also, seek therapy prior to any problem to have healthcare workers and therapists to talk to. They can assess your habits and find ways to advise you. These are some of the best ways to lower your genetic predisposition to alcoholism.

Life-long Commitment

If you see that you are going to have a problem with alcohol, like not being able to stop when you begin or drinking to the point of blackout, talking with a therapist and taking steps to avoid alcohol may be your best defense against alcoholism. There are those that see that they cannot stop once they start, so they make a point not to take that first sip. There may be pressure to drink socially, but those with genetic factors may need to step back and not start on that path.

Alcoholism is a chronic disease, life-long in its lifestyle changes. By letting your friends and family know that you “aren’t much of a drinker”, they can take steps to make sure that you are not in a situation where there are not alterative beverages. By always being the one to volunteer to be the designated driver is another way to keep from feeling like an outsider when you are surrounded by drinking family and friends. Abstaining from alcohol is a choice. By making others aware of this choice, and by letting a select few know the precise reason why you are making this choice, can help lower the pressure of drinking in public or social events.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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