Is Addiction Hereditary?

Everyone knows what addiction is, but it can be hard to tell where this disease comes from. Keep reading to learn whether or not addiction can be passed along in the family tree.

is alcohol addiction hereditary

Different psychological factors may increase the chances of heavy drinking. However, how you cope with these feelings can impact certain behavioral traits. For example, people with high stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions are more vulnerable to developing alcoholism. In these types of circumstances, alcohol is often used to suppress feelings and relieve the symptoms of psychological disorders.

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is currently supporting a major research effort to identify gene variations that make a person vulnerable to drug addiction. This effort involves studyingDNA , which directs the development of every human cell .

is alcohol addiction hereditary

As it relates to alcoholism, genes, environment and social interaction can all affect a person’s risk level for alcohol addiction. When a person has a genetic disorder, they have an abnormality in their genome.

Getting Help For Alcoholism

There is a distinct link between substance abuse problems and mental health issues such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. A dual diagnosis (or a diagnosis of two or more co-occurring disorders) is a precipitous, dangerous situation where alcohol use and the mental health issues are prone to exacerbating one another. Dual diagnosis with one of the diagnoses being an alcohol use disorder is best treated in an alcohol and mental health treatment program that recognizes the co-occurring disorders and treats both with an integrated approach. When it comes down to it, the environmental elements of growing up with an alcoholic parent are just as impactful, if not more than genetic predisposition.

Abundant evidence indicates that alcoholism is a complex genetic disease, with variations in a large number of genes affecting risk. Some of these genes have been identified, including two genes of alcohol metabolism, ADH1B and ALDH2, that have the strongest known affects on risk for alcoholism. Studies are revealing other genes in which variants impact risk for alcoholism or related traits, including GABRA2, CHRM2,KCNJ6, and AUTS2. As larger samples are assembled and more variants analyzed, a much fuller picture of the many genes and pathways that impact risk will be discovered. We mentioned that there does seem to be a genetic aspect to higher alcohol tolerance – research shows that genetics are responsible for about half of an individual’s risk for developing alcohol use disorder.

is alcohol addiction hereditary

They have seen behaviors of adults who have had alcohol and may be desensitized to drinking because of their environment. Recent studies report that drinking before the age of 15 makes young people six times more likely to become an alcoholic or abuse alcohol during their lifetime.

Study Reveals Genes Associated With Heavy Drinking And Alcoholism

There are hundreds of genes in a person’s DNA that may amplify the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Identifying these genes is difficult because each plays a small role in a much larger picture.

There are other factors, but researchers say certain genes make drinking a pleasant or unpleasant experience. Sara has over a decade of experience writing about behavioral Transitional living health and addiction. As someone who has seen loved ones struggle with addiction, Sara is passionate about writing content that may help others find their way to recovery.

Catalog Of Genes And Diseases From Omim

No, you are not destined to become an alcoholic just because your parents were an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that worsens with the continued use of alcohol, but is not present at all if an individual abstains completely from alcohol. Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site.

is alcohol addiction hereditary

The most common initial approach was linkage analysis, in which markers throughout the genome were measured to identify chromosomal regions that appeared to segregate with disease across many families. The drawback to this approach is that linkage studies find broad regions of the genome, often containing many hundreds of genes. In many cases, the initial linkage studies were followed by more detailed genetic analyses employing single nucleotide polymorphisms that were genotyped at high density across the linked regions. Some of the genes identified through this approach have been replicated across a number of studies and appear to be robust genetic findings. Alcohol is widely consumed, but excessive use creates serious physical, psychological and social problems and contributes to many diseases. Alcoholism is a maladaptive pattern of excessive drinking leading to serious problems.

Are You At Risk Of Becoming An Alcoholic?

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The sensitive mice tend to lose their inhibitions and pass out rather quickly, earning them the nickname «long sleepers.» «Short sleepers» are mice that are genetically less sensitive to alcohol.

Your genes and addiction — Harvard Health

Your genes and addiction.

Posted: Mon, 28 Jan 2019 08:00:00 GMT [source]

History shows us that one of the most reliable indicators of a person’s risk for developing alcoholism is their family history. In most cases, when looking at an alcoholic’s family history, one or both of their parents were alcoholics. Hereditary and genetic factors make up about 50-75% of the causes of substance abuse and addiction. If someone has certain genes or hereditary influences, they may be more likely to display addictive behaviors. Everything in our health is a combination of genetic and environmental influences.

However, it was dramatically higher among the twins whose biological fathers were alcoholics, regardless of the presence of alcoholism in their adoptive families. Genome-wide association and genetic functional studies identify autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene in the regulation of alcohol consumption. Prescott CA, Kendler KS. Genetic and environmental contributions to alcohol abuse and dependence in a population-based sample of male twins. Alcohol dependence is a common, complex genetic disease, with many variants in many genes contributing to the risk. It is now appreciated that a whole spectrum of allele frequencies and effect sizes may play roles, from common variations with small effects through rare variants of large effect. As whole exome and whole genome sequencing technologies come down in cost, they are being applied to identifying rare variants. For studies of rare variants, families are quite valuable for sorting out true positives from the background of individual variations that we all harbor.

In recent years, studies have explored a possible connection between your environment and risk of AUD. For example, many researchers have examined whether or not a person’s proximity to alcohol retail stores or bars affect their chances of alcoholism. People who live closer to alcohol establishments are said to have a more positive outlook on drinking and alcoholism genetic statistics are more likely to participate in the activity. The argument of whether or not alcoholism is genetic has been a long-lasting discussion in the medical and psychological fields. Historically speaking, alcoholism was considered to be a “behavioral” disease. This meant that it was seen as having been developed mostly from the act of excessive drinking.

is alcohol addiction hereditary

Some can be personality-based, and the majority are surprisingly physical traits exhibited while drinking that discourage excess. Having a lower alcohol tolerance, or having a gene variant that lowers the rate of metabolic processing for alcohol will socially deter people from drinking too much (as it won’t be pleasant).

Alcohol In Family Units: Genes Associated With Alcoholism

The predisposition toward alcoholism is genetic, as there are certain genes that affect risk. Genetics play a significant role in the risks of alcohol dependence and addiction. What this means for family members of alcoholics is that you are not necessarily going to abuse alcohol yourself. However, your odds of developing a dependency are higher than others. 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.

Biologically, parents pass their genes down to their children, so naturally, children inherit the genes. If you are a suffering alcoholic or a loved one of an alcoholic, you have probably wondered at some point if your disease is genetic. You may have a parent or other close relative that you witnessed battling this disease known as alcoholism. Perhaps you may believe that your drinking was not by choice, or that you could not avoid becoming an alcoholic like your mother, father, or uncle. Environment and social factors influence whether someone will overdo it or stop after one drink. A major finding about the genetics of drug addiction was reported in 2004 by investigators at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center.

  • The role of environment in AUD is also seen when comparing people with parents who are addicted to alcohol versus other family members.
  • If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
  • We are excited to help you or your loved one start the journey to recovery.
  • History shows us that one of the most reliable indicators of a person’s risk for developing alcoholism is their family history.
  • For instance, the addiction treatment drug naltrexone may work on specific genes.
  • Since larger and more involved studies have been done, researchers found that certain people were unable to stop drinking, not just unwilling.

Each of these factors has genes, and genes can come in many different combinations. Alcohol abusers may drink to cope with symptoms of psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and others. On the flip side, regular alcohol and drug abuse can cause side effects that mimic mental health disorders. You can also experience anxiety and depression after detoxing from alcohol as your central nervous system tries to rebalance chemicals tied to mood and emotional regulation. Some studies demonstrate the genetic predisposition to develop the disease of alcoholism. In any case, what seems to be more proven is alcohol intolerance.

Some statistics put the risk at two to four times more likely in those with a family history of alcoholism. However, according to various studies, less than half the people with this risk actually become alcoholics.