There are many factors that can lead to an addiction. From a family history of drug abuse to mental disorders, each individual has different underlying causes that fuel their dependency. While knowing the answer to, is alcoholism genetic, will not make the addiction any easier to handle, it can help patients learn why their addiction first began. Once the cause is known, it is easier to know how to stop it.
Is Alcoholism Genetic?
While there is no way to know the answer to is alcoholism genetic, for sure, scientists are fairly certain that there is a genetic link. Alcoholism is more likely in patients who have a family history of alcoholism. This could be because of genetics or because of the early exposure to drinking.
When it comes to the actual genes involved, researchers believe that half of someone’s risk for developing alcoholism is from their genes. Environmental factors, social interactions and other causes also play a role.
Is There a Single Gene Responsible for Causing Addiction?
Scientists may have narrowed down one cause of addictions, but they cannot find a specific gene that causes the disorder. Multiple genes play a role in increasing someone’s chances of developing alcoholism. There also seem to be genes that decrease an individual’s risk of becoming an alcoholic. Some people are genetically predisposed to become sick when they drink, so these individuals are less likely to become alcoholics.
Is Alcoholism Genetic and Treatable With Genetic Modifications?
While it would be interesting to make changes to the genome, this is not currently possible. Scientists have tried using drugs to make patients reduce their drinking. According to researchers, naltrexone has shown promise among patients who have a genetic disposition to become an alcoholic. While some research is promising, everyone with an addiction is still treated through the same standard of care until doctors have a fuller understanding of the genetic causes of alcoholism.
What Increases the Chances of Developing Alcoholism?
Other than genetic causes, there are many reasons why someone may be more likely to develop alcoholism. Family environment plays a key role. Children who are raised in an alcohol-filled environment are more likely to adopt the same behaviors as adults. Part of this may be also due to the emotional trauma and mental disorders that are caused by living in such an environment.
Some of the factors that increase someone’s risk of suffering from alcohol abuse include:
- Parents or caregivers who use alcohol and other drugs
- Social problems or negative home environments
- Using at an earlier age
- Suffering from mental health problems
- Using other illegal substances or tobacco
- Not feeling a sense of satisfaction or purpose in life
- Having friends who abuse alcohol or drugs
Statistically, being male is also another risk factor for developing alcoholism. Overall, men are three times more likely to develop a drinking problem than women. When some or all of these factors are combined with a genetic predisposition, the results can be disastrous.
Alcoholism Is About More Than Risk Factors
The good news is that no one has to become dependent on alcohol. Addiction and recovery centers can help with detox. With help, people who are already addicted can become sober and live a healthier lifestyle. Individuals who are worried about potentially developing alcohol abuse problems in the future should take these steps:
- Drink moderately or not at all: Even people without risk factors for alcoholism should avoid drinking. If alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation.
- Do not engage in underage drinking: Underage drinking is illegal and a risk factor for becoming an alcoholic.
- Never use illicit drugs: Developing an addiction to drugs can make someone more likely to develop alcoholism.
- Talk to a health professional: Anyone who is concerned about potentially developing a substance abuse disorder should talk to a medical professional. An addiction specialist can help determine the individual’s risk factors and if they are experiencing problem drinking.
What Are the Treatment Options for Alcoholism?
Even with the best precautions, someone may still develop a drinking problem. When this happens, there are options available for treatment. Detox centers can help individuals remove their physical dependence on alcohol. Afterward, group support and rehab can help the patient continue their recovery.
At a detox center, patients are continuously supervised as they go through withdrawal symptoms. Since some withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, it is important to start detoxing from alcohol under professional medical care. With help, it is possible to safely become sober and enjoy a better quality of life.
What Are the Signs That Someone Needs Help?
If a loved one is dealing with alcoholism, they may try to hide their addiction. They may drink in secret or before social events to hide how much they consume. Often, individuals will feel cravings throughout the day and night to drink. They may lose control of their ability to limit how much they drink.
As the addiction worsens, the individual may develop a physical dependence and a tolerance to alcohol. Their body basically needs more alcohol to achieve the same effect, and it relies on alcohol to feel normal.
While it is normal to wonder, is alcoholism genetic, this is only one of the many questions that patients may have. A qualified detox center can help answer questions about alcoholism, treatment options and the detox process. To find out more information and get help with your sober recovery, call Serenity House Detox & Recovery at 866-294-5306.