The good news is that scientists are actively pursuing many more paths to treatment and prevention of these complex illnesses. Only 15%-25% of people with drinking problems seek help from doctors or treatment programs. Many do not use treatment services until they are a court, family member, or employer forces them. People in alcohol treatment often have the most serious problems such as co-occurring health, mental health, and psychosocial disorders. Studies also show that 66-75% of risky drinkers do make positive changes.
The second RAND study, in 1980, found that alcohol dependence represents a factor of central importance in the process of relapse. Among people with low dependence levels at admission, the risk of relapse appears relatively low for those who later drank without problems. But the greater the initial level of dependence, the higher the likelihood of relapse for nonproblem drinkers. Other factors such as a significant period of abstinence or changes in life circumstances were also identified as strong influences for success in a book on Controlled Drinking published in 1981. The fact that alcoholism runs in families has been well-documented in studies since the 1950’s .
If I Have A Relative Who Is Addicted To Alcohol, Will I Become Addicted?
Taking this into consideration, it will be important that the decision to be tested for a genetic predisposition be made with informed consent and accompanied by counseling. This information must be safeguarded and kept confidential so as not to be misused by insurance companies and employers. Children and incompetent adults must be protected from testing which is performed without their full comprehension and given input into the decision even if their parents or guardian give consent. Finally, the quality of the testing procedure must be monitored and access must be equally available to all. DNA testing information could be used by life and health insurance companies and even governmental agencies to discriminate against individuals who test positive for certain genetic vulnerabilities and disorders. The advent of genetic testing raises the possibility that at-risk individuals could be excluded from private health care coverage . Insurance companies have been known to exclude “preexisting conditions” from their coverage .
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. alcoholism genetic predisposition If you have a family member who suffers from alcoholism, this doesn’t mean that you are going to become an alcoholic yourself. But your odds of developing a dependency may be higher because of this relation. New studies suggest ways to identify those at risk and help prevent them from becoming alcoholics.
So Is Alcoholism Genetic?
Extensive study of the alcohol metabolizing genes has demonstrated their important role in disease risk. Additional genes have been identified that have expanded our understanding of the genes and pathways involved; however, the number of findings to date is modest. First and perhaps foremost, most studies of alcohol-related phenotypes have been small – hundreds or a few thousand samples. Most robust associations that have been reported in common disease have employed tens of thousands of samples and are now beginning to combine several studies of these magnitude into even larger meta analyses. The alcohol research community has begun to form larger consortia for meta-analyses and it is anticipated that with the resulting increase in sample size the number of robust associations will increase. A second approach that will likely benefit the alcohol research community will be greater examination of pathways or gene sets.
Some of the contributing reasons why alcoholism runs in families have nothing to do with genetics. A child living with an alcoholic may experience a chaotic, disruptive and even harmful environment, and this can contribute to the development of a substance use disorder. Current research results from COGA as well as those from other experts are exciting and give hope to the millions of people who are affected by alcohol dependence. The advances that are being made in the genetics of alcoholism will assist the creation of prevention programs as well as improved interventions and treatment programs for those with vulnerability for alcohol dependence. In the meantime, before these programs are perfected, we may experience an awkward transition period in which diagnostic accuracy improves before effective prevention programs can be implemented. This will raise ethical, legal, social, and procedural issues that may be accompanied by anxiety, depression and hardships for our patients .
Alcoholismare Genes To Blame?
When a person starts drinking at an early age, they are at higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Research has proven genes are responsible for nearly half of the risk for developing alcohol use disorder. But, there is not one specific gene which contributes to alcoholism.
An international group of over 100 scientists used a comprehensive database to collect information on smoking and alcohol use behaviors. They measured Genetics of Alcoholism behaviors such as age when smoking was initiated, age when smoking cessation occurred, number of cigarettes per day, and drinks per week.
The Role Of Genetics In Alcohol Addiction
The scientists then cross-checked those findings with life events ; physical characteristics ; and diseases suffered . The investigators correlated those results with specific genes suspected in various types of substance use. The study even identified new genes and functions alcoholism genetic predisposition not expected to be important in addiction. Three of the genetic locations mapped to all of the smoking and alcohol phenotypes measured. Some diseases, such as sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis, are caused by a change, known as a mutation, in a single gene.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism conducted a study that found as much as 60 percent of genetic factors influenced a person’s risk for alcoholism. If you have alcoholism in your family, then your risk of becoming an alcoholic is about 50 percent higher than a person with no genetic factors. Another factor how long do alcohol withdrawal symptoms last to this risk is that some people have a genetic trait that makes them experience more pleasurable effects from alcohol rather than the unpleasant ones. Variations in genes that affect the metabolism of alcohol in the body have been studied as factors that can increase or decrease the risk of alcohol use disorder.
Using Genetic Information To Combat Alcoholism
People who have close relatives with an alcohol use disorder are at the highest risk of developing the condition themselves. The more family members a person has with the disease, the more likely he or she inherited the genetic predisposition for alcoholism. There is no one gene that determines a person’s risk of alcohol addiction. Rather, hundreds of genes can work to increase someone’s predisposition to alcoholism. How a person responds to these genes as well as countless environmental factors are what determines whether he or she develops an alcohol use disorder.
Some mutations, like the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations that are linked to a much higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer, have become critical medical tools in evaluating a patient’s risk for serious diseases. Medical researchers have had striking success at unraveling the genetics of these single-gene disorders, though finding treatments or cures has not been as simple. Most diseases, including addiction, are complex, and variations in many different genes contribute to a person’s overall level of risk or protection.
Expanding Outpatient Treatment With discovering Choices
Individuals with a family history of alcoholism are far more likely to develop the condition themselves than people with no alcohol addiction in their family. Regardless of whether a person’s genetics is to blame for his or her alcohol addiction, seeking treatment is the best way to overcome alcoholism and reclaim life in sobriety.
- The risk of alcoholism in adopted-away sons of alcoholics is four times greater than for the general population .
- This study points to specific chromosomes that predispose individuals to become alcoholics.
- Several lines of evidence lead us to believe that there is a genetic component to the risk for alcoholism (Cloninger, Bohman, Sigvardsson 1981; Pickens et al 1991; Kendler et al 1992; Schuckit 1994).
- While these studies do not indicate that genetics are the only factor in alcohol dependence, they do imply that genes create a vulnerability that can be affected by environment.