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Can Genetics Increase Your Risk?

genetics and alcoholismAlcoholism is a serious disease that can affect many people. It doesn’t care what color your skin is. It doesn’t care how much money you earn in a month, a week, or a year. It doesn’t care how many children you have, where you live, or what kind of car you drive. Anyone who takes a drink of alcohol runs the risk of developing an addiction to it; however, there are a few factors that can increase one’s risk.

Environment Can Affect One’s Risk of Addiction to Drugs and Alcoholism

Your parents came home from work every day and poured themselves a nice cocktail before dinner. Perhaps, later, they had another drink, and then another. They may have sat quietly in the den watching late-night television shows until it was time to go to bed. They didn’t “get drunk.”  They didn’t stumble about the room with a lampshade on their heads. They simply enjoyed a few adult beverages because they were, after all, adults. Perhaps your parents drank more heavily. Perhaps they did not drink every day, but they enjoyed cutting loose on the weekends. When an individual is raised in an environment that involves drinking, he or she is more likely to see drinking, whether or not they drink to excess, as acceptable and normal. This is fine for some individuals, however, if the drinking they have been exposed to is unhealthy – in fact, if their parents were alcoholics – they increase their odds of becoming addicted to alcohol or other drugs later in their own lives. According to the Mayo Clinic, this family history and social or cultural environment of alcohol abuse can be detrimental to an individual who is susceptible to addiction.

Can Genetics Increase Your Risk of Alcoholism?

Some medical conditions are hereditary. The color of our eyes is determined by the genes we inherit from our parents. The color of our hair is also determined by these genes. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, there are too many inherited or gene-related disorders and diseases to list, including several types of cancer, Crohn’s disease and even hemophilia. These conditions are genetically present because of a direct combination of our parents’ gene makeup and coding. Alcoholism is not inherited in the same way. In fact, it is not completely understood why some individuals become addicted to substances and others do not. What is known is that if an individual who has a family history of alcoholism never takes a sip of alcohol, they will not develop the condition. This leads many individuals, whether they drink, refrain from drinking, or even if they have already developed a substance abuse disorder, to believe that alcoholism is a choice. If it isn’t inherited, it must be possible to simply put down the glass and never take another drink. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Choosing to pick up a bottle of beer or a glass of bourbon for the first time may have been a choice. Once alcoholism develops and the addiction is in place, the choice is often removed due to the compulsions that exist when one suffers from addiction. The choice lies in one’s decision to get help and receive effective, evidence-based treatment for alcoholism. If you think you may have a drinking problem or an addiction to alcohol, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you ever find yourself drinking more than you intended?  Perhaps you stopped by the local pub for a quick drink on the way home, only to find that you are still there at closing time.
  • Do you ever experience withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to drink for several hours or days? Some symptoms include sweating, trembling or upset stomach.
  • Do you keep alcohol within easy reach at home, stashing a bottle in several rooms?
  • Are your personal relationships at risk because of your drinking?
  • Have you lost interest in activities that used to be important to you, either a hobby or even the special events in the lives of your children?

Getting the help you need for an alcohol-related disorder isn’t as daunting as you might think. Futures of Palm Beach offers a comprehensive program that includes assisting with detox and full, evidence-based treatment programs that can truly make a difference in your life. Call today to find out how we can help you.