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Alcohol Addiction And Genetics – Is Alcoholism Genetic?

Genetics play a role in nearly every human trait, from behaviors to physical characteristics. One behavioral trait that genetics can pass down is a predisposition toward alcohol use and addiction. Individuals who use alcohol and have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism are far more likely to suffer from alcohol use disorder.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use, the alcoholism treatment center at Vertava Health can help. We offer evidence-based treatment for alcohol use disorder that addresses the underlying causes of addiction. Contact us at 888.601.8693 for more information.

Alcohol Addiction and Genetics

Is alcoholism genetic? People with a family history of alcohol addiction are up to 50 percent more likely to develop this condition than those with no genetic influences.

The following are ways in which genetics may increase the risk of alcoholism:

  • Varied Serotonin Levels — Abnormal serotonin levels in the brain have been linked to a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
  • Lack Of Warning Signals — A person who has a genetic history of alcohol addiction may interpret the warning signs of too much alcohol differently. Little or no bodily and mental warning signs may be experienced by people predisposed to alcoholism.
  • Smaller Parts Of The Brain — Some studies have shown that individuals predisposed to alcoholism have a smaller amygdala. The amygdala is a part of the brain believed to be linked to cravings and emotions.
  • Predisposition For Mental Illness — Many mental illnesses are believed to be genetic. A mental health disorder can increase the risk of alcohol addiction by up to 50 percent.

No one gene determines a person’s risk of alcohol addiction. Instead, 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, is what determines whether they develop an alcohol use disorder.

Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

Genetics and heredity are closely related, but there are some differences. Someone who has a genetic condition has an abnormality in a genome. Someone with a hereditary disease has inherited a genetic mutation from their parents.

People with parents who struggled with alcohol addiction are two to four times more likely to experience alcohol addiction themselves. This could mean that individuals with close family alcoholism may be more prone to inheriting the genetic mutation that contributes to alcoholism.

However, it could also mean that people with close relatives who use alcohol grew up in an alcohol-centric environment. A person’s environment will ultimately influence how their inherited genes are expressed.

Are You at Risk for Developing 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 they inherited the genetic predisposition for alcoholism.

However, having a genetic predisposition for alcohol addiction does not automatically mean someone will go on to have this condition. Several preventative things can be done to reduce the risk of alcohol use and addiction.

Ways to prevent the development of an alcohol use disorder include:

  • Being aware of any family history of alcoholism
  • Knowing the symptoms of alcohol use and taking action if any of these symptoms arise
  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Developing healthy coping strategies to manage stress
  • Avoiding alcohol or limiting the intake

Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction at Vertava Health

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use or addiction, seeking treatment is the best decision that can be made. To learn more about Vertava Health’s alcohol addiction treatment program, please call us today at 888.601.8693. We are here to help you on your journey to recovery.