There are many who believe, and research seems to back them up, that the child of an alcoholic mother or father is more likely to become drink dependent.
In other words there is a link between alcoholism and genetics.
Statistics seem to support the alcoholism genetics link:
Looking at this evidence it seems that there is a strong hereditary factor at play.
However, the picture is slightly more complicated than this.......
The problem lies in determining whether a person’s drinking problem is genetic or environmental.
Let’s take an example....
Difficult to say, but....
A number of studies have been carried out on twins which have investigated this link further.
Results show that identical twins (physically and genetically identical) are more likely to BOTH develop alcoholism than fraternal twins (not genetically identical).
Results also show that identical MALE twins are more likely to be both drink dependent than female identical twins.
Moreover more severe drinking problems are more likely to be inherited than less severe ones.
But this doesn’t rule out environmental factors.
Identical twins are generally brought up in the same household and both experience and ‘learn’ from that environment.
In order to rule out the environmental influence researchers studied identical twins who had been adopted separately.
These studies seemed to support the alcoholism genetics argument.
Regardless of whether the adoptees were brought up in an alcoholic or non-alcoholic household, identical twins were still more likely to be drink dependent than fraternal twins.
So research tends to point to a an alcoholism genetics link, yet the data is by no means conclusive. Research is still ongoing in this area.
A lot of time, expertise and money is being spent on these studies because....
There are three major reasons why establishing a link between alcoholism and genetics would be useful:
There are some in the field who claim that yes, drink addiction is genetic, but there is no alcoholism gene as such.
Rather it is the personality type (which is more susceptible to drink dependence) that is passed from generation to generation.
Researchers say that 30%-70% of alcoholics show these characteristics. In order to cope with their feelings this ‘type’ tends to self-medicate with alcohol.
Over time this leads to dependence on the ‘medication’.
CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS ARE MORE LIKELY TO.....
So are the children of drink dependent grandparents, parents, siblings destined to a life ‘on the bottle’?
In a word, no! An emphatic, NO!
It all comes down to choice.
Yes, the child of alcoholic parents is probably more likely to become alcoholic but, and this is a big BUT, it all comes down to choice. He or she can choose not to take the first drink.
The child of an alcoholic, whether still a child or now an adult, can be supported in a number of ways:
Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)
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