“The statistical associations between genetic factors and alcohol abuse are very strong” (McNeece & DiNitto, 2012). However, there is still much debate over the validity of genetics as a definite cause for addiction. Perhaps, the reason for this is because the number of children of alcoholics that go on to become alcoholics is still small. Additionally, genetic predisposition cannot explain the number of cases of alcoholics that did not come from alcoholic parents or families. In fact, addiction can be so prominent, that it remains even after the drug use has ended (McNeece & DiNitto, 2012). Therefore, the biological theory should not be ruled as it is based on what takes place in the body. There is no other theory that can explain how a person could still have addiction symptoms when the substance is absent from their system. Predisposition implies that there is a mutation or malfunction in the body that appears to cause a craving or susceptibility to becoming addicted to a substance.
Since the consumption of alcohol is necessary to develop alcoholism, the availability of and attitudes towards alcohol in an individual's environment affect their likelihood of developing the disease.
Biology and genetics influence substance abuse and addiction. According to Prescott, Madden, and Stallings, (2006), a number of obstacles confront researchers considering genetic influences on substance-related behavior. Preliminary there is a significant discrepancy across civilizations and archival periods in the prevalence and classifications of substance use (i.e., cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, or heroin). A person’s biology is a determination in the addiction of risk. For example, Prescott, Madden, and Stallings (2006) assert many studies indicate increased rates of alcoholism among adopted males; although he is not influenced by his own biological parents (p. 475; see Cadoret et al. 1985; see Cloninger et al. 1981). It has been suggested that twins (e.g., adults) are most likely to inherit smoking dependence. Various studies throughout countries study variables (e.g., age and gender) according to Prescott, Madden, and Stallings (2006).
Does the environment that one grows up in contribute to alcoholism or is alcoholism determined by genetics? It wasn’t until 1991 that alcoholism was considered both a medical and psychiatric disease by the American Medical Association. Alcoholism is defined in the dictionary as a chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol, repeated excessive use of alcoholic beverages, the development of withdrawal symptoms on reducing or ceasing intake, morbidity that may include cirrhosis of the liver, and decreased ability to function socially and vocationally. (dictionary.com). It is also defined as an addiction to the consumption of alcoholic liquor or the mental illness
Based on the results of Swedish adoption studies, some researchers divide alcoholism into two types. Type I, the most common, occurs in both men and women and is associated with adult-onset alcohol dependence. This form, also known as "milieu-limited" alcoholism, appears to be the result of "genetic predisposition and environmental provocation," according to NIAAA's 1991 publication Alcohol Research: Promise for the Decade--that is, the development of alcoholism in these cases is an interaction between inherited predisposition and the person's life situations.
Lastly, Cadoret et al. (1996) conducted one of the first studies that was in fact able to isolate the influence of environmental exposures from potential genetic confounds. In addition to family studies and adoption studies, there have been numerous large-scale twin studies with the aim of examining the role of genetics in susceptibility to addiction. However, the majority of the twin studies conducted have examined the heritability of alcohol abuse and dependence and have not examined the heritable influences on illicit drug use disorders. Past research such as the study by McGue (1998), indicate that the estimates of heritability of alcohol/abuse dependence have ranged from 50%-70%.
Alcohol Use Disorder, most commonly known as Alcohol Abuse or Alcohol Dependence, is widely known as problem that occurs with individuals who consumes an enormous amount of alcohol on a regular basis often in a single use. The individual is consumed with the thought of drinking most of the time and often feel as though they need it to continue with living their daily lives, even though, they are not really living at all because the enormous amount of alcohol causes a dysfunction for their daily tasks. It inhibits their ability to take care of their family, have social relationships and performing activities at work. It is believed that genetics can play a massive role towards an individual developing an Alcohol Use Disorder.
The taste was awful. My friend drank a little bit and stopped, unable to take anymore. The thing was, I couldn’t stop” (Sheff, N., 2009, p. 2). This coincides with the risk factor of association with peers who are drug abusers, as it was his friend’s idea to start drinking, but it more so shows the fact that Nic has uncontrollable genetic factors that predisposed him to SUD. This is indicated by Nic explaining that he did not enjoy the taste of alcohol but he could not stop himself from drinking more. “Much of [the risk of SUD] may be conferred genetically” (Weinberg, 2001, p. 345).
To begin, research of genetics has shown some information on how genes support alcoholism being a disease. Genetics and the brain are connected as other organs, such as the heart and genetics are connected (Nurnberger). People can inherit heart diseases from their parents through their genes. There is no difference with alcohol. Alcohol damages the brain cells and can increase the chances of a child to become more dependent on alcohol. According to Nurnberger, “For alcohol dependence, about 50 percent is related to genetic factors and the other half to environmental factors, such as availability of alcohol and cultural factors” (Nurnberger). Although environmental factors play a high role in alcohol consumption, genetics, as shown, have played half the role. People become dependent on alcohol, and not only can it be hereditary to pass the gene to increase the chances of becoming an alcoholic, but alcoholism can even cause a change to other genes to possibly cause depression and anxiety problems (Nurnberger). Saying that alcoholism is not a disease when it can be passed through genes and alter other genes would be like saying autism is not a disease or disorder. The reason is because the brain is genetically altered, like alcoholism, and it can change other
While genetics play a role in an addiction, they are only half of the equation. Environmental factors like relationships, work and stress can increase the chances of someone becoming an alcoholic. When these environmental factors are combined with alcoholism genetics, the results can be terrible. Someone who has a predisposition for an addiction is more likely to become an addict if they are in an environment where substance
While scientists are not sure which genes are responsible for addiction, research shows that there is a strong genetic component. Someone with an alcoholic parent is far more likely to become an alcoholic than the average person. This does not mean that the addiction is inevitable, but it does mean that individuals should be careful about substance abuse issues if a family member is
I grew up being told that addiction runs in the family and that it is inherited. The Etiology and Natural History of Alcoholism article (n.d.) does, in fact, mention that genetics play a role but other factors such as social, psychological, and environmental are also reasons to contribute to addiction. In turn, genes are not solely supported as the only cause for susceptibility. In fact, “[m]ost offspring of an alcoholic parent DO NOT develop alcohol use problems or disorders in their lifetime.” (Module 2: Etiology and Natural History of Alcoholism, n.d.)
Alcoholism today is not considered as a moral failure, majority of the people view it as a disease. Alcoholism is a chronic primary and progressive disease and it can also be fatal in some instances. It is termed as a chemical disease as it breaks down in the stomach as well as bringing a different effect on the brain of the alcoholic as compared to a non-alcoholic. Alcoholism can be classified as a biological disease since the chemical predisposition of alcohol consumption is inheritable. Therefore, alcoholism should not be punished instead it should be treated. The reason behind classifying alcoholism as a disease is because the progression of alcohol dependence occurs through stages in a natural sequence .This progression is similar to that of the development of physical illnesses. In recent interpretations of alcoholism as a disease the focus is on the biological factors which differentiate alcoholics from nonalcoholics. This disease concept has led to development of the idea that those who abuse alcohol are often out of control and abstinence is the only method for treating this disease.
There is an emerging literature documenting how specific environmental factors moderate the importance of genetic effects. A growing number of variables have been shown to moderate the relative importance of genetic effects on substance use and dependence and externalizing behavior. Among the environmental moderators being studied are childhood stressors (emotional, physical, and sexual abuse), availability and access to drugs and alcohol, peer-group antisocial and prosocial behavior, religiosity, parental attitudes toward drugs and alcohol, parental monitoring, and socioregional factors. Religiosity has been shown to moderate genetic influences on alcohol use among females, with genetic factors playing a larger role among individuals without a
Genetic factors play a major and very pertinent role in alcoholism. In actuality, genetic factors may account for half of the total risk for alcoholism. Alcoholism is such a complex disorder that a single gene is not likely to be the main culprit. However, researchers are investigating a number of inherited traits that make some individuals more susceptible to alcoholism than others. Some of the examples are listed below: