Causes of Alcoholism Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

This is of particular concern when you’re taking certain medications that also depress the brain’s function. If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder. However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important. If addiction is part of your family’s health history, you’re more prone to develop a substance use disorder. About half of your susceptibility to developing a substance use disorder (SUD) can be hereditary.

Thinking of addiction as genetic begins with understanding that addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disorder. “In many ways, it’s no different than having a family history with heart disease or diabetes,” says Dr. Anand. It’s estimated that alcoholism is hereditary in about 45% to 65% of alcoholism cases. There are no differences between the heritability of alcoholism in men and women but it’s important to note that men are more likely to develop alcoholism based on personality traits like risk-taking.

Alcohol Use Disorder Should Be Treated Now

Alcohol dependence can form quickly and aggressively, or it may surface over a longer period of time. Regardless of when or how a drinking problem starts, there are plenty of treatment options available to help get your life back on track. Seeking professional help will provide you with the greatest chance for lasting sobriety. Alcoholics Anonymous is a decades-old treatment, but one that research shows is effective.

These individuals, sometimes called “almost alcoholics,” may not see the connection at first but would often benefit from help and support. It’s difficult to determine the precise contribution of gene and environmental interactions in alcohol use disorders. However, the environment tends to have a stronger influence on the development of alcohol and drug abuse than genetics.

Research and Statistics: Who Has Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol-related risks can also be affected by environmental and social factors. Mixing alcohol with other drugs can also compound the risk of developing alcohol dependence. Drinking in moderation and limiting your alcohol consumption can help to decrease the odds of developing alcohol dependence and also for alcoholism.

  • High levels of dopamine can fuel poor impulse control and tilt someone toward addictive behaviors.
  • However, there are few long-term studies that have conclusively linked specific genetic traits to humans who struggle with AUD.

They seem to lose fewer inhibitions and tolerate alcohol for longer before they pass out. At Willingway, we believe addiction is disease that can devastate the entire family. Fortunately, we also know through recovery, families can heal together and emerge stronger. He was a well educated military veteran, happily married, and step-dad to a successful daughter, Rikki, and her family.

Genetic influences on alcohol flushing in East Asian populations

Drinking heavily over long periods of time may lead to changes in how the brain functions, from memory slips to more debilitating conditions. The impact depends on when a person started drinking, how long they’ve been drinking, and how often and how much they drink. Mutual-support groups teach you tactics to help you overcome your compulsion to drink alcohol. AA is a 12-step program that provides peer support and applies 12 spirituality-based principles. The NIAA offers a list of a number of these support groups, including secular options. The brain experiences the effects of alcohol right away, resulting in changes in mood, behavior, and judgment.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. By Buddy T

Buddy T is a writer and founding member of is alcoholism hereditary the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website.

A recent review found that Alcoholics Anonymous led to higher rates of abstinence from alcohol long term compared to other treatments. One of the key reasons, according to the data, is that people continue to participate for years after they have completed the 12-step program. AA is not for everyone and there are plenty of different treatment options, but it can be successful and meaningful for those who choose it. Some people prefer to try cutting back or quitting on their own before committing time and money to rehab.

People may turn to alcohol as a way to cope with trauma or other, often unrecognized psychological disorders. Socially, alcoholism may be tied to family dysfunction or a culture of drinking. Environmental factors also account for the risk of alcohol and drug abuse.2 Scientists are learning more about how epigenetics affect our risk of developing AUD. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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