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Is There an Inherited Family Alcohol Gene?

We don’t learn to change our behaviors if our behaviors are tolerated. The study found that among identical male twins, if one had an alcohol use disorder, there was a 50 percent likelihood that the other would at some point in his lifetime. Our hereditary behaviors interact with our environment to form the basis of our decisions.

The risk of alcoholism is considered just as much environmental, social, and behavioral as it is genetic and heritable. One of the most common forms of research into the family link for alcoholism comes in the form of identical twin studies and study of the human genome, or genomic medicine. Identical twins share the same 23 chromosomes and can, therefore, provide insight into the heritability of diseases and traits.

Alcohol Addiction And Genetics

Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, but everyone with the condition has difficulty controlling their drinking. Most people with an alcohol use disorder continue to drink even when doing so causes problems. This pattern of drinking can also lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, and antisocial behavior.

is alcohol abuse hereditary

While heredity and genetics are closely linked words, they can mean different things from a medical perspective. With hereditary diseases, the illness stems from the parents’ DNA. Genetic diseases, on the other hand, are illnesses that are caused by mutations in the person’s DNA. For example, a review of 12 different adoption and twin studies found that genetics explain roughly 50% of alcohol use disorder developments, showing a strong link between alcoholism and genetics.

Following Parents’ Example of Drinking

AUD is correlated to lower intelligence and the likelihood of quitting smoking and a greater risk of insomnia and most mental health disorders. National health statistics show that for individuals in the general population, alcoholism will eventually develop in about 3% of the women and 8-10% of the men. Even if you aren’t the child of an alcoholic, but you are a blood relative of one, the risk is intimidating.

It’s well-known that individuals with a family history of alcoholism are at a higher risk of becoming alcoholics. A growing body of scientific evidence seems to confirm alcoholism and a genetic predisposition. This means if you have more than one close relative with an alcohol use disorder, you may have inherited genes that put you at risk. While genetics and family contribute to addiction, social and environmental factors also play a huge role. If alcoholism runs in your family, that doesn’t mean you are fated to become an alcoholic. However, it does mean you should take extra precautions as you could have a strong susceptibility toward alcoholism.


This gene codes for a protein that influences the levels of GABA. This brain chemical that’s widely thought to be involved in alcohol dependence. Furthermore, in collaboration with a co-author from the University of Texas, the researchers took brain samples of deceased people who suffered from alcohol use disorder. They discovered those samples have lower GAT-3 in the amygdala as well.

is alcohol abuse hereditary

That fact that the dysregulation or problems can be encoded in the genes means that parents can pass these genes on to their children who in turn pass them on to their children, and so on. There are several things you can do to minimize your potential risk of developing alcoholism, especially if it runs in your family. NIAAA publishes that one of the biggest risk factors for developing AUD is a pattern of binge and excessive drinking on a regular basis.

Windward Way Recovery Can Help

Therefore, the more genes present, the higher the likelihood of developing AUD, and thus we can infer that genetics do play some role. In 2006, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supported research that reviewed the human genome as part of an effort to identify Americans most at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. Before this groundbreaking study, studies showed that alcohol abuse runs in families, but it could not point to the genetic basis of this finding.

Is alcoholism a dominant gene?

There are many genes, and variations of genes, that impact a person's risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. There is no one “alcohol gene” that leads to the development of an alcohol use disorder.

The study was possible because the Human Genome Project (2003) was able to identify every gene that exists in human DNA. The long arm of Chromosome 7 contains the acetylcholine receptor gene CHRM2 (cholinergic muscarinic 2 receptor). The journal Genes, Brain and Behavior publishes that this gene has been linked to a heightened risk of alcoholism.

Additional risk factors

There are gene variations that could predispose a person to mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. People with mental illness are more prone to turn to alcohol as a is alcohol abuse hereditary coping mechanism. Consistently ranked a top medical school for research, Washington University School of Medicine is also a catalyst in the St. Louis biotech and startup scene.

The more they learn, the better chance they will be able to create therapies to help the millions of people who struggle with addiction. The researchers also found that the genetic factors related to simply drinking alcohol were a little different from the genetic factors that contributed to alcohol dependence. In other words, at least at the genetic level, there’s a difference between simply drinking alcohol, even large amounts of alcohol, and becoming dependent on it. A key aspect of the new study is that it included genetic data from people of European (46,568) and African (6,280) ancestry.

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