Question by OldGregg: Genetic alcohol problem?
Me and one of my friends like to go out and drink little (as we do) but he text me earlier saying he’s supposed to stop because he has a genetic alcohol addiction thing which is hereditary. I tried following this up with saying *do you mean you just have a history of alcoholics in your family?* but he said its some hereditary thing where his family becomes easily addicted (they do have a lot of piss heads lol). Is this true, like is it an actual genetic condition and if so, what is it?
Answer by parkermbg
The Genetics of Addiction
Anyone can become an addict. We all have the genetic predisposition for addiction because there is an evolutionary advantage to that. When an animal eats a certain food that it likes, there is an advantage to associating pleasure with that food so that the animal will look for that food in the future. In other words the potential for addiction is hardwired into our brain. Everyone has eaten too much of their favorite food even though they knew it wasn’t good for them.
Although everyone has the potential for addiction, some people are more predisposed to addiction than others. Some people drink alcoholically from the beginning. Other people start out as a moderate drinker and then become alcoholics later on. How does that happen?
Repeatedly abusing drugs or alcohol permanently changes your brain chemistry and increases the way you respond to drugs and alcohol. If you start out with a low genetic predisposition for addiction, but you have poor coping skills that make you repeatedly escape through drugs or alcohol, then you can permanently rewire your brain and still end up with an addiction. Each time you drink heavily, you increase the buzz that you get from alcohol, which increases your chances of becoming an alcoholic.
Approximately 50% of addiction is caused by your genes and 50% by poor coping skills. This has been confirmed by numerous studies. One study looked at 861 identical twin pairs and 653 fraternal (non-identical) twin pairs. When one identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin had a high probability of being addicted. But when one non-identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin did not necessarily have an addiction. Based on the differences between the identical and non-identical twins, the study showed 50-60% of addiction is due to genetic factors.(4) Those numbers have been confirmed by other studies.(5)
The children of addicts are 8 times more likely to become addicted. One study looked at 231 people who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction, and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Then it looked at the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of those people. It discovered that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an 8 times greater chance of developing an addiction.(6)
Your genes are not your destiny. The 50% of addiction that is caused by poor coping skills is where you can make a difference. Lots of people have come from addicted families but managed to overcome their family history and live happy lives. You can use this opportunity to change your life.
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