When we see people with alcoholism and wonder why they’ve become so, we also wonder about whether alcoholism is a genetic habit. Research has found strong evidence of familial linkage between alcoholism, family history, and genetics. Children of alcohol-addicted parents are 3 to 4 times more likely to become alcohol-addicted than those with non-alcoholic parents. But albeit having one or both alcoholic parents highly increases one’s risk of becoming alcoholic, it’s not absolutely sure that the child will become alcoholic.
Definition of Alcoholic
There is no universal definition of alcoholic. It can be said that a person suffering from alcoholism, showing a distinctive desire to consume alcohol beyond their capability to control it, without regard to all rules of common sense is an alcoholic.
There are at least two of the following four characteristics in an alcoholic person:
Usually, an alcoholic craves alcohol from morning till night.
Loss of Control
An alcoholic cannot have just one or two drinks. And he also loses control over many aspects of his life in due course. Also as his habit worsens, he also becomes unable to do basic tasks like meeting family, work obligations, keeping appointments and paying bills.
The body and brain of an alcoholic become dependent on alcohol. In the long run, regular drinking can disturb the balance of the neurotransmitter GABA which controls spontaneity as well as glutamate which induces the nervous system. Alcohol consumption increases dopamine levels which may increase the pleasure in drinking. When drinking is stopped, it provokes alcohol-specific mental and physical symptoms, some of which may be life-threatening.
Tolerance to alcohol means more and more alcohol is needed to produce the same effect.
A person doesn’t need to be an alcoholic to experience several penalties for heavy drinking. Anyone who consumes alcohol regularly in excessive quantities can ultimately develop moderate, serious or life-threatening side effects.
Genetics and Alcoholism
There is a strong connection between problem drinking and family history causing alcoholism genetic disease. To understand it, scientists have analyzed genes which may be associated with alcoholism. The confusing social, cultural and economic factors, and also a family history of drinking, make locating a genetic connection difficult. However, animal, as well as human studies, have found promising results that one-day preventive and treatment strategies can be designed with the help of DNA tests conducted by companies like OriginalGene.
Although the systems in which genes affect the tendency of alcohol addiction are complicated, they obviously play a fundamental role. But if a person has a family history of alcoholism, he doesn’t need to be destined to be alcoholic. Keeping altogether away from alcohol is the safest option for anyone with such a family history.