Alcohol abuse is something that many Americans suffer with on a daily basis. Alcohol use disorder is the medical term for alcoholism and abuse. While many people begin drinking on their own, and make the decision to persist in heavy, unhealthy drinking behaviors— there is a genetic aspect to it. In terms of genetic alcoholism, there are specific genes that have been linked to these behaviors. Furthermore, your likelihood of having them increases depending on your family history. But how exactly does that work? And where does genetic alcoholism stop, and a personal choice begin? 

Genetic Alcoholism: Genetic Factors 

Parents pass their genes down to their children. Therefore, some of those traits that they carry can be passed from one to another. However, it’s important to understand the difference between genetic and hereditary diseases. Hereditary diseases display a genetic mutation that occurred through their parents’ DNA. Therefore, genetic alcoholism is something of a debate in the scientific community.

The big debate… 

Ultimately, scientists know that alcohol abuse and genetics are related. However, the big confusion is to whether those genes are in the parent already, or if their habit leads to a gene mutating. In short, did your parent already have that tendency, and pass it down to you. Or, did they create that tendency, consequently mutating those genes, and then pass it on to you? 

How genetic alcoholism works 

While there are certain possibilities that are more likely for the close relative of an alcoholic— there is also the alcohol abuse which occurs as the result of making a personal choice that eventually snowballs. In short, alcohol abuse— and genetic alcoholism starts somewhere. Your body, based on it’s genetics, will process alcohol in a certain way. Therefore, it handles drinking in a way that makes them more likely to develop a disorder. 

Not all alcohol abuse starts for the same reasons… 

As we’ve mentioned, genetic alcoholism starts somewhere. However, on the flip side, just because you are ‘likely’ to have certain traits— doesn’t mean you will. Just because your Mom, Dad, or Grandfather was an addict does not mean that you will be. Rather, it just means that you have to keep a closer eye on your habits to avoid alcohol abuse.