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Is Alcoholism Genetic?

Genetic Links to Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disorder that has a spectrum of intensities, including alcohol use disorder and full-blown addiction. But what are the risk factors for being an alcoholic? This is a nature vs. nurture debate, and many believe that the causes and risk factors of alcoholism are solely behavioral and have no genetic impact. But a recent study shows this may not entirely be the case. Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland looks at whether alcoholism is genetic or if it is merely a product of that person’s upbringing or environment.


Does Alcoholism Run in Families?

There are certain genetic factors associated with increased risk for alcoholism. Genetic alcoholism risk factors include variants in specific genes, DRD2 and SIX3. The research also found that alcohol use disorder was correlated with 111 other conditions, including a greater risk of psychiatric disorders and insomnia.1

While these genetic variants may indicate a greater risk of developing alcoholism, further studies must be done to determine the full correlation between genetic variations and alcohol use disorder. Though a predisposition to alcoholism may be genetic, behavioral factors still play a significant role. Essentially, a person is not born with an alcohol use disorder.


The Nature vs. Nurture Alcoholism Debate

Though researchers have found common genetic variants that may influence alcoholism risk factors, a genetic risk does not guarantee that someone will become an alcoholic. Many doctors still regard alcoholism and addiction as learning disorders, meaning that alcoholism can also be a learned behavior. This is especially true for patients who have co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD and alcoholism, where one disorder fuels the other.

So, is alcoholism genetic or a learned behavior? The short answer is – possibly both. Recent research shows the possible genetic influences of alcoholism, but history also shows that the condition can be connected to behavioral patterns. More research needs to be conducted on these gene variants to see their full effects on disorders, including alcoholism or substance abuse.


Signs Someone Is Abusing Alcohol

It is not that difficult to point out a person who is drunk. Their speech may be slurred, they could have difficulty staying steady on their feet, and they may even get physically sick. When this happens sometimes, though not good, it is not necessarily a sign that an addiction is present. It is when a person continues these destructive habits despite the presentation of negative side effects that a problem may be present.

Symptoms of alcoholism can include:

  • Withdrawing from professional or social activities to drink alcohol
  • Failing to follow through on obligations with work, school, or family
  • An inability to limit how much alcohol is consumed
  • Persisting with drinking despite clear physical, mental, and relationship problems
  • Developing a tolerance or needing to drink more to achieve the desired effects
  • A lack of interest in things that do not involve drinking but were previously enjoyed
  • A consistent urge or need to always drink
  • Consistent unsuccessful attempts to cut back on alcohol consumption
  • Withdrawal symptoms like sweating, tremors, and nausea

When someone presents any of the signs listed above, it could indicate that there is something seriously wrong. That is why our Illinois drug rehab offers not only recovery from different medications and illicit substances but from alcohol use disorder as well. The process is not always an easy one, but with the right mindset and dedication, it has the potential to be one of the most transformative experiences of your life.


Treating Alcoholism

Though alcoholism may be a genetic disease for some, it can still be treated. At Banyan’s Heartland treatment center, we offer a chance at recovery from alcoholism. Our Heartland detox center also provides treatment for alcohol withdrawals, which should never be overcome on one’s own. Additionally, this disease can have a strong effect on the loved ones of those suffering from it, and none of these people should be ignored. Families of alcoholics can access their own therapy that can help them come to terms with the situation at hand.


Do not let alcoholism ruin your life. While some genetic links to alcoholism do exist, the right therapies can help patients overcome their vulnerability to this condition. Call 888-280-4763 to learn more about how we can help.



  1. Penn Medicine - Study Reveals Both Overlapping and Distinct Genes Associated With Heavy Drinking and Alcoholism


Related Reading

Illnesses Related to Alcoholism

The Secondhand Dangers of Drinking

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Is Alcoholism Genetic?
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