The Alcoholism Gene

Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

Since alcoholism runs in families, there must be a genetic link

The occurrence of an alcoholism gene is something that scientists and physiologists have studied throughout the years. If there are families that hold a large number of alcoholics, is alcoholism hereditary? The answer to this question may be one that is loaded, rather than a simple explanation.

Identifying a Specific Alcoholism Gene

Alcoholism Gene

Many scientists and social scientists have observed that the phenomena of alcoholism seems to run in families. In a family of blood related individuals, there is an increased chance that if one person is an alcoholic, the offspring, siblings, or parents of the individual will be alcoholics as well. One of the genes that has been identified as a component that causes the development of alcoholism is the CREB gene. The CREB gene dictates how high or low the body’s tolerance of alcohol will be. If the CREB protein is decreased, alcohol may become a preference. Decreased CREB proteins can run in families, helping to answer the question, 'is alcoholism hereditary?'

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Endorphin Release in Alcoholism

Endorphins also appear to play a part in alcoholism. The brain has the ability to release signals to the body, some for basic instincts, and others for intellectual or emotional reasons. Endorphins are the hormone that the brain releases to produce a feeling of comfort or pleasure. Endorphins are also sent to the brain when the body may be in any sort of pain, to help dull the negative feelings. They produce a similar effect that morphine has on the brain.

Some researchers have gathered that if a person has a low endorphin level, they are more likely to abuse alcohol. Those who have parents with low endorphin levels will tend to have lower endorphins as well. This explains one way that alcohol becomes a hereditary trait.

Dealing with Genetic Triggers

Alcoholism has long since been thought to run in families and with genetic proof, the question is now how to help prevent those who have the alcoholic gene from becoming an alcoholic. The first step is through developing an understanding of alcoholism and its signs. Since those who are predisposed to alcohol likely have close family members who are or were alcoholics, they may have a better understanding of what alcoholism looks like.

With the help of alcoholism counseling, those who are predisposed to the disease will be able to speak freely. If they see themselves starting to build their alcohol consumption and develop the signs of those who may be an alcoholic, they will already have a safe space to speak about their issues and get help to change their behaviors.

Those with the alcoholism gene are not assured to get the disease. Just as those who are hereditarily predisposed to diseases like diabetes are able to change around their eating habits and watch their weight to decrease the possibility of developing the disease, those who are predisposed to hereditary alcoholism can take precautions by not making alcohol a part of their regular life.

The argument 'is alcoholism hereditary' is a nature and nurture argument. By nature, yes, there are those who possess genes that make it easier to become an alcoholic. By nurture, habits can always be changed to make sure that the alcoholism gene has little to no effect on the lives of those who choose to live a sober life.

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