Alcoholism and Genetics
Does It Just Seem to Run in Families?

Alcoholism and Genetics. You already know from my Home Page how I feel about the subject. I'm convinced it is in the genes. Others think it is environmental and has nothing to do with heredity. Do alcoholics inherit a bodily trait or just a bad habit?

As I have stated before in these pages, I approach the subject of alcoholism and recovery from a unique perspective: I lived it. I am in no way specialized or educated in the subject of addiction except from personal experience. And from my experience with alcoholism and genetics, I'm pretty certain it runs in families. At least in my family it does.

Generation to Generation . . .

alcoholism and genetics

I read something interesting recently about alcoholism and genetics that made me question what it is exactly that I inherited.

alcoholism and genetics

You may want to do some more extensive research on actual scientific studies related to genetics and alcoholism, but what I gleaned from my readings was this.

There are certain genetic factors (one or more alcoholic genes) at work in the alcoholic. Just like physical traits such as blonde hair or personality traits such as extroversion are passed genetically from parent to child, so is the tendency toward alcoholism.

The inherited traits can be one or more of the following:

  • A low sensitivity to the sedative effects of alcohol. Alcohol doesn't have quite the "downer" effect on alcoholics that it does on others, thus they are better able to "hold their liquor".
  • A high sensitivity to the pleasurable effects of alcohol. The sensations produced by alcohol can be absolutely euphoric to the alcoholic, enticing him/her to return to the high again and again. Others don't necessarily feel this same euphoria.
  • A lower than normal level of endorphins in the brain. Drinking alcohol increases the amount of this brain chemical allowing the alcoholic to experience pleasure that he/she can't otherwise feel.
  • An introverted personality. Alcohol helps the alcoholic feel less inhibited socially. The perfect solution to shyness...
  • A risk-taking personality. We all know an alcoholic or two who is absolutely crrrrrazy, don't we?!

Add Some LEARNED BEHAVIOR to the Mix

So a child starts out with one or more of the above listed genetic factors. Because her parent(s) also have one or more of these traits, naturally they drink as she watches on. She learns well in this environment the lifestyle of alcoholism.

Not only that, because of the stress and trauma associated with the alcoholic home, she may live in a continual state of fear, anxiety, or depression. And this makes her at a higher risk to seek relief through substance abuse.

alcoholism and genetics

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Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

Now back to my original question at the start of this page about alcoholism and genetics: Do alcoholics inherit a bodily trait or just a bad habit?

My Opinion: They inherit both.

If you haven't had a chance to read My Story of Alcoholism and Genetics, take a few minutes to see for yourself the pattern of alcoholism in my family.

alcoholism and genetics

Here is an article written in July, 2007 from Time magazine called
How We Get Addicted.

Interesting stuff:



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READ MORE: A Family Affair

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