There is little doubt that familial, societal, and personal issues can contribute to the onset of alcoholism. What if there is another cause lurking back in a person’s family history and should they separate themselves from the genetic source? What if genetics plays a role in the onset of the disease of alcoholism?
These are questions doctors and scientists have been pondering for decades as they search for ways to prevent the abuse of alcohol if possible. Interestingly enough, some very important discoveries were made regarding this subject matter 12 or 13 years ago.
Is Alcoholism Genetic?
To answer the titled question is alcoholism genetic, it requires scientists to compare the patterns of genetic code from the brain tissue of alcoholics and their families to those of nonalcoholics and their families.
Back in 2008, researchers with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conducted a study. As part of the study, they studied data from several research projects that other scientists had completed the prior few years. What they discovered was genetics does play a role is a person’s predisposition to alcohol abuse, accounting for as much as 60% of the determining variances. What they couldn’t find out was where within the genetic code this message would be sitting.
The answer to that very important problem came in 2013 and 2014 when university research programs at schools like Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Indiana University School of Medicine, and the University of Texas at Austin’s Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research made independent discoveries. What they uncovered was the secret genetic code. At first, they were able to isolate the applicable gene sequence down to three GABA receptor genes, GABRA5, GABRB3, and GABRG3. Upon further research, they discovered that one of these gene receptors, in particular, is the most likely culprit, that one being the GABRG3 receptor.
What Does This Mean for the Future of the Prevention of Alcoholism?
The news of this connection between heredity and alcohol abuse was exciting. Unfortunately, it still left a lot of unanswered questions. To this day, researchers still have not discovered just how heredity influences a person’s desire to abuse alcohol. There is conjecture but nothing concrete enough for publishing. With that said, the research continues.
Looking to the future, if researchers are ever able to answer questions about how heredity influences problem drinking, it would potentially open the door to a myriad of prevention options. First, the children of alcoholics could seek testing at a young age to see if they have the dubious gene code. If so, they could immediately begin therapeutic processes that would direct their future behaviors away from ever using alcohol in the first place. This would be a great preventative option given that researchers claim children who have at least one parent who struggles with an alcohol abuse disorder will have 3-4 times increased risk of eventually abusing alcohol themselves.
Second, the world of pharmaceutical science could go to work on a preventative cure. It would be an easy solution for a complex problem if the prevention of alcoholism lies in the form of prescription medication.
The Treatment Option
For now, the only viable answer to the alcohol abuse issue is the user going through rehabilitative treatment in a reputable rehab facility. If someone or a person’s spouse has a significant alcohol abuse problem, inherited or not, they will most likely need professional help from the addiction treatment community. Note: all of those self-help solutions someone might find on the internet are ineffective. Why? They never seem to address the underlying cause or causes of the alcoholic’s desire to self-medicate.
For anyone out there who is not familiar with the alcohol abuse treatment option, there are three steps in the process for nutrition and addiction recovery. First, people who enter rehab with a significant drinking problem usually need to spend time in a medically monitored detox program. The primary purpose of a good detox program is to make sure clients are safe as their bodies go through withdrawal. As part of the detox process, medical professionals will be standing by to prescribe relief medications for clients who experience pain and discomfort.
After successfully completing a detox program, clients begin working with their therapists on a search for the truth. They will be working together to find the root causes behind the client’s need to abuse alcohol, While genetics might play some role, there is usually a significant personal issue or two that drive’s the client’s need to abuse alcohol. Upon identifying the root cause or causes, it then becomes possible for clients to develop targeted coping skills they can use to fight temptation and their triggers.
After completing treatment, rehab facility administrators will typically introduce clients to some very useful aftercare options. The most prominent aftercare options are sober living homes, 12 Step meetings, alumni events, and aftercare outpatient counseling. Hopefully, you have found this information useful. In the here and now, the notion you may have inherited your desire to abuse alcohol will seem insignificant. What you need to focus on is getting help for your addiction issues now.