Sober living

Influence of Genetic Background in Alcohol Dependency

This may reflect both
the limited sample sizes and the clinical and genetic heterogeneity of the
disease. As noted above, the functional ADH1B polymorphism is
not represented on GWAS platforms; GABA-receptor genes are often nominally
significant but well below genome-wide significance in these studies. Thus, the
genes and SNPs found through GWAS have had little Art Therapy for Addiction: Painting Paths to Recovery overlap with previous findings
based on candidate genes/pathways and linkage analyses. Alcohol is widely consumed, but excessive use creates serious physical,
psychological and social problems and contributes to many diseases. Alcoholism
(alcohol dependence, alcohol use disorders) is a maladaptive pattern of
excessive drinking leading to serious problems.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) often seems to run in families, and we may hear about scientific studies of an “alcoholism gene.” Genetics certainly influence our likelihood of developing AUD, but the story isn’t so simple. Take our free, 5-minute alcohol abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.

Functional significance of GWAS variants

Again, just because a family member struggles with alcoholism does not mean it is inevitable that you also will. The risk of alcoholism is considered just as much environmental, social, and behavioral as it is genetic and heritable. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) publishes that about 16 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

This means if you have more than one close relative with an alcohol use disorder, you may have inherited genes that put you at risk. Due to this genetic influence, children of alcoholics are four times more likely to develop an alcohol dependence compared to the average person. Research estimates that the genetic factor contributes to your odds of developing alcoholism by 40% to 60%. Thus, alcoholism is partially hereditary, though other factors also play a role. Some researchers have hypothesized that there may be large panels of rare functional variants, each of large effect, that predict risk for alcoholism with different variants occurring in different people. It is becoming increasingly easy, and the costs are rapidly decreasing, to detect rare variants using next-generation sequencing.

The Role of Genetics in Alcoholism

The long arm of Chromosome 7 contains the acetylcholine receptor gene CHRM2 (cholinergic muscarinic 2 receptor). The journal Genes, Brain and Behavior publishes that this gene has been linked to a heightened risk of alcoholism. CHRM2 is thought to influence the limbic and cortical structure of the brain involving learning and memory functions, information processing, and attention levels. Several different single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of CHRM2 are believed to increase the odds of developing alcohol dependence, which can lead to alcoholism and influence its heritability. While genetics and family contribute to addiction, social and environmental factors also play a huge role. If alcoholism runs in your family, that doesn’t mean you are fated to become an alcoholic.

  • The family environment you were raised in also has an important impact on alcohol consumption.
  • Commonly, genome wide association studies (GWAS) of alcoholism have focused on phenotypes based on the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)[14].
  • Because he is a member of a support group that stresses the importance of anonymity at the public level, he does not use his photograph or his real name on this website.

Research shows that genetics have somewhere between a 40% and 60% influence on addiction. But does that mean your chance of addiction is essentially a coin flip if you have a family history of SUD? It’s a little more complicated than that, says addiction psychiatrist Akhil Anand, MD.

Is Alcohol Addiction Genetic?

As a result, it is now recognized that genetic risk for alcoholism is likely to be due to common variants in very many genes, each of small effect, although rare variants with large effects might also play a role. This has resulted in a paradigm shift away from gene centric studies towards analyses of gene interactions and gene networks within biologically relevant pathways. In addition to affecting alcohol addiction risks, these genetic factors may lead to increased alcohol consumption and heighten the risk of alcohol-related diseases, including certain cancers.

  • Some of the genes identified
    through this approach have been replicated across a number of studies and appear to
    be robust genetic findings.
  • Genes that affect alcohol consumption, including those noted above that affect the
    very heavy consumption that is a key aspect of AUDs, can affect the risk for a
    disease caused in part by alcohol29.
  • Instead, hundreds of genes inside your DNA can potentially amplify your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
  • As a result, it’s possible for families with a history of alcoholism to pass down those tendencies to later generations.

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