It is generally agreed that alcoholism can be hereditary, and if you have or had an alcoholic parent then you run a higher risk of developing the condition yourself than other people might.
However, this does not necessarily mean it is an unavoidable situation. There are many other contributory factors that can compound the issue, so just because you have an alcoholic parent, or parents, does not automatically mean you will develop the disease yourself.
It does mean, however, that you will need to be more vigilant than most other people, and keep a careful and honest watch on what you are doing when it comes to your alcohol consumption habits.
Genetics and Alcoholism
Alcoholism does tend to run in families and it’s felt that genetics are partly responsible for this. Much research is and has been undertaken to discover and understand those genes that make a person prone to developing alcoholism. In clinical research, it has been found that twins born to alcoholic parents, given up for adoption and living separately, have both gone on to develop alcoholism, and studies like this lend weight to the heredity argument.
But popular opinion is that it’s this genetic glitch, together with environmental situations and learnt behaviour from an alcoholic home that can cause the disease to develop. It’s not necessarily just genetic, there are other factors which play a huge part in the progression.
Alcohol and Environmental Influence
It’s not just your genes that can cause alcoholism; environmental issues such as home life and background can contribute to the development of this disease.
Living with an alcoholic, or even in some cases, two alcoholics, can have a very disruptive influence over children. Growing up, they will have high anxiety levels, and live with tension and chaos at home. It’s also been shown that reported incidents of abuse, both physical and sexual, are far higher in the homes where there are alcohol problems and these issues can go for years without being dealt with.
These children are also likely to underachieve at school, have trouble fitting in, and be destructive and rebellious. And this unhappy childhood can lead to far greater problems down the line.
Learnt Behaviour and Drinking
Added to the situations above is the aspect of learnt behaviour and bad habits. If all a person has ever known is regular and consistent heavy drinking and difficult behaviour, arguments and strife, it’s going to hard for them to realise that’s not the normal way to live. People in general following familiar and recognised modes of behaviour, they follow patterns and fall into old habits. And it is difficult not to fall into those patterns during adult life.
It’s also true to say that a high proportion of adults who have been children of alcoholic parents very often end up with partners who have alcohol abuse problems or addiction. So the concept of learnt behaviour rears its head again.
In summary, the best way to see the heredity issue is to accept that those with alcoholism in their family are at greater risk, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion – being aware can be enough to ensure this destructive disease does not take hold.
It is understood by many that alcoholism can be hereditary and that if you were brought up by an alcoholic parent, there’s a bigger chance that you could develop the illness ahead of someone who wasn’t.
However, this isn’t cast in stone and alcoholism can be avoided as there are many other factors that play a role in causing people to become alcoholics. Your parent/s may have suffered, but you certainly have a choice on whether you will too.
If you had an alcoholic parent, what this does mean is that you have to take extra care and become more aware when it comes to drinking alcohol. Is alcoholism hereditary? Continue reading below and we’ll provide you with some answers to this question.
Does Alcoholism run in our Genes?
It’s often found that alcoholism does run in families and that our genes, in some way, can be held accountable for this.
Lots of research has been done to try to find out whether it’s our genetic make-up that makes us more susceptible to alcoholism. One study has proven that twins, who were adopted from alcoholic parents, grew up and became alcoholics, which provides strong evidence the disease may be hereditary.
Many believe that it is this genetic issue, coupled with other environmental factors and watching how a parent behaved when they were under the influence of alcohol, can drive children of alcoholic parents to become addicted to the substance in the future.