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Is drinking hereditary?

Old 05-07-2015, 01:43 AM
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Is drinking hereditary?

I was just wondering what peoples opinion was on the above point. I was doing a bit of research on this and it seems the link is unclear weather it is hereditary in a faulty gene sense or if it is more situational i.e people brought up drunks end up drinking because they see it day to day.

My mum was an alcoholic and heroin addict, she got clean from heroin but drinking killed her, my grandad is a recovering drunk, my aunt is a drunk (semi-recovered but more due to illness than by taking action). A lot of Irish in our blood and just about every relative who stayed in Ireland is either dead from drinking or still drinking. Is it to much evidence of it being heriditary to think that all these people in the same family all became drunks because they were around it as children. Just wondered what peoples thoughts were.

On my wifes side there is one alcoholic, now recovered and he is a totally isolated case, no other alcohol problems in the family at all, non of his kids or brothers and sisters have any issue.
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:56 AM
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Neither of my parents are alcoholic. They were social drinkers, parties, holidays and such. They never drank just to drink.

I didn't drink because I was around it and in fact I was turned away from it early as my brother was an alcoholic and I had a fear of being like him but doing things because of fear only last for so long. My fear turned to resentment.

It does run in my family though. Grandparents, Aunts, cousins etc.

They say it can be hereditary and there can be a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.

In all honesty I don't really care about all that. Today I don't look for why I have the problem. I use my energy in solving the problem. I like to use my time to learn how to live sober and on lifes terms rather then trying to understand or explain how or why I am an alcoholic.
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:59 AM
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My father is a recovering alcoholic sober for 7 years, my grandfather from my mothers side was an alcoholic, my brother had an addicition to prescription pills, so maybe its in my genetics who knows?
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Old 05-07-2015, 02:33 AM
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I think an addictive personality could be genetic, but not drinking in and of itself.

I think the drinking parts come from a wide array of sources -- your childhood, current environment, etc. If you have that addictive trait though, which I believe is genetic, then yeah, it can get ugly.
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Old 05-07-2015, 02:34 AM
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If it's not genetic than nurture plays a far greater role than I thought. A person with an alcoholic parent is about 50% to have a problem and even more with 2. Add in other nurture classifications like abuse, lack of support etc and your chances continue to rise.
Ultimately however if you don't own a problem it's going to be far harder if not impossible to address. In that regard I just remind myself that no one ever tied me down and made me drink so this is my problem, my life and I'm the solution.
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Old 05-07-2015, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ChancesAh View Post
If it's not genetic than nurture plays a far greater role than I thought. A person with an alcoholic parent is about 50% to have a problem and even more with 2. Add in other nurture classifications like abuse, lack of support etc and your chances continue to rise.
Ultimately however if you don't own a problem it's going to be far harder if not impossible to address. In that regard I just remind myself that no one ever tied me down and made me drink so this is my problem, my life and I'm the solution.
I definitely own the problem and not even trying to blame anyone else for where I ended up, I picked up and kept picking up and I have know qualms about owning that. Was just wondering if we start at a disadvantage with regards to the odds. People have two alcoholic parents and end up T- totallers and some have sober parents and end up drunks It was more just a point of interest for me wondering what the route cause was and whether we were always likely to end up where we did due to faulty genes.
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Old 05-07-2015, 03:01 AM
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An alcoholic parent/s and family certainly exposes you to greater risk - statistics prove that beyond doubt. I personally believe it's probably genetic or some sort of inherited defect. Whilst I know a lot of people started drinking due to work / social circles etc I remember feeling driven and wanting to drink more when I started and I couldn't stomach booze. (I learnt - lol).
My four siblings are all alcoholic. My father never drunk until he was about 40 due to his religion and went ballistic the minute he started - within 6 months it ended as his marriage was on the line. I know in his family there are non drinkers and alcoholics. I've also found out in the last few years that the at least 2 non drinkers are recovering alcoholics. Whilst alcohol is the common theme the households and characters are all different and my fathers family home was alcohol free hence I think defect / gene or something more than nurture. That would fit my drive to drink which I never discussed with my younger brother but I could see it in him too.
In that regard I was talking only about myself and mindset when I was saying I own my own problem for my own benefit.
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Old 05-07-2015, 03:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ChancesAh View Post
An alcoholic parent/s and family certainly exposes you to greater risk - statistics prove that beyond doubt. I personally believe it's probably genetic or some sort of inherited defect. Whilst I know a lot of people started drinking due to work / social circles etc I remember feeling driven and wanting to drink more when I started and I couldn't stomach booze. (I learnt - lol).
My four siblings are all alcoholic. My father never drunk until he was about 40 due to his religion and went ballistic the minute he started - within 6 months it ended as his marriage was on the line. I know in his family there are non drinkers and alcoholics. I've also found out in the last few years that the at least 2 non drinkers are recovering alcoholics. Whilst alcohol is the common theme the households and characters are all different and my fathers family home was alcohol free hence I think defect / gene or something more than nurture. That would fit my drive to drink which I never discussed with my younger brother but I could see it in him too.
In that regard I was talking only about myself and mindset when I was saying I own my own problem for my own benefit.
Interesting that you mention that drive to drink....I had that from a young age and don't think it was a learnt behavior.......I always wanted to get drunk, I always drank with purpose even from the very beginning as child of 12-13 years old. I never eased into drinking it was like I just had to try it for the first time and I knew what I wanted to do with.
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Old 05-07-2015, 03:39 AM
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The literature I've read on this question suggests there's definitely at least a genetic component.

Which isn't the same thing as saying "genetics cause alcoholism" or "drinking is hereditary" - such statements are, while not 'wrong', too broad, too general, and not allowing for nuance.

While it definitely does "run in the family" in many cases, it's not necessarily so - the current state of research suggests that there are genes that predispose people to developing alcoholism - doesn't mean that if you have those genes, you definitely will become an alcoholic- just that your risk of developing a drink problem is elevated compared to that of the general public.

After all, most severe cases didn't happen in a flash - it takes many, many years between having your first drink or pissed up night out as a first year uni student, not particularly standing out from anyone else, to getting to the stage where you're not only drinking every evening, and sneaking out between classes to chug a beer, but literally can't go the time it takes to walk between your house and the laundrette without a drink in your hand, and telling yourself that's normal (as was the case with another teacher I knew when I was living in Lop Buri).
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Old 05-07-2015, 03:55 AM
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Neither off my parents drank but both sides of the family have their share of addiction and/or mental illness. I think you can perhaps have a gene but it was always my choice to drink.
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:11 AM
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My grandmother had a pretty serious drinking problem but quit on her own years ago. My cousin has been sober for 7 years.

Also....There is a very strong link between abuse or trauma (as a child OR adult) and addiction. It creates shame and fear. In the book I am reading the doctor who wrote it says that shame and fear are the main causes of addiction for women. Not sure about men because I'm a woman.

I working on my shame and fear from my abusive childhood and it's really helping.
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:21 AM
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I come from a large family with alcoholic parents.
3 children are normal, 3 children with problems with either drinking or drugs.
Seems the 3 that had problems were the more "sensitive" types.
The 3 that are normal were the ones that fought back when parents were illogical or just plain wrong, where the other 3 internalized things.

I was always the "fixer", cleaning up messes and trying to making things smoother, trying to prevent fights.
Maybe taking things internally required "self medication"????
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:36 AM
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I think personality traits and therefore certain behaviors can be hereditary. If you have compulsive personality traits you going to be more apt to wind up with an addiction if your not careful. That combined with being brought up in an environment where drinking is a excepted and often applauded behavior can be a recipe for disaster.
That being said, I don't think we come out of the womb look around and say, "Wow that was rough. I could sure use a drink!"
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Old 05-07-2015, 05:44 AM
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I don't think there's a clear answer to this one but I do think that seeing one's parents drink, growing up in a drinking culture, never being taught the concept of 'responsible drinking' and being wounded by drinking all contribute to an increased likelihood of drinking and drinking related challenges in life.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:10 AM
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My sister and I have had this discussion. My oldest daughter and I have had this discussion.

My sister chose, due to what she saw with my mom and her own dad's history of addiction, to not even tempt fate. She and her husband decided early on to not have alcohol in the house. She's had other struggles though with E.D.'s that can be classified along the addiction spectrum.

My oldest has asked me if it's genetic. I tell her I don't know. I really don't. She has also chosen to not have alcohol a part of her life (she also has the disease where drinking would be very very bad, so that's always a safety measure in place for her).

I do believe in the environment link strongly. While my mom quit drinking when I was 5, I still have very clear memories of going to the bar with her during the day and playing video games and having Shirley Temples. I remember the parties where I was the little waitress and would get quarters for bringing drinks. I remember her hangovers, the people coming over, the chaos. But I never had a fear of alcohol. Ever. To me, it was just something you did. Even though, now as an adult, I connect those bad times with her drinking, most of my memories going into my teens were people laughing, playing music, having drinks, and so associated it with a good time. Drinking = fun for me. However, I can look back now and realize I never drank like other people I was a binger from the get-go. That may be the hereditary link. I don't know. I don't fret it much because the end result is the same: I don't drink anymore. It's bad for me.

Something my sister said has always stuck with me "I don't drink because I don't want to trip a trigger and find out if I have it in me to be alcoholic. So I just avoid it" Smart thinking and does come down to no matter our genetics or how we grew up, we have the choice in the end whether we drink or not.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:17 AM
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Everyone in my family drinks except my Mother, but I wouldn't consider any of them to be alcoholics.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:21 AM
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There could be genetic predisposition to to alcoholism and addiction in general, but the conditions someone is exposed to while growing up, I think are far more important.

A wheat plant has genetic predisitions to grow wheat, but if it is just put on a table, with no water, dirt or soil, it's not going to do very much at all.

Study after study has shown a massive link between addiction and childhood trauma. A land-breaking report, called the ACE study was undertaken in the early 2000's I believe. Anybody who has been affected by addiction should be familiar with it. The results have revolutionized the way experts look at addiction.

What it found was, that from of a group of 17,000 mature adults, the likelihood of someone developing addiction later in life was directly correlated to, what was termed, adverse childhood experiences, or childhood trauma. The more intense the trauma, the greater the risk factor. So for example, someone who had expeirenced multiple traumatic events in their childhood (substance abuse in their family, loss of a parent, break-up of the family, physical or sexual abuse, etc) was 4,600 times more likely in that study, to develop an intravenous drug addiction later in life compared to somebody who had experienced none of the ACE's listed.

What was so conclusive about the study was that if found a marked correlated effect between the intensity of trauma and the increased likelihood of developing a wide range of negative health risks later in life, including substance abuse and addiction.

Since that original ACE report, study after study has found the same results. You take any group of alcoholics and drug addicts and you will find that those who have experienced childhood trauma are massively over-represented in that group, by the tune of 40-80%.

I guess, I'm also speaking from experience here. I remember going to my first counselling session, and one of the first questions my therapist asked me was, tell me about your childhood. I hemmed and talked about how it wasn't so bad, compared to other families I work with and how my mom worked hard. She said that wasn't the question she asked, tell her about my childhood. I remember at that point becoming flooded with emotions and for the first time started to process some of my traumatic experiences.

So...in short, no I don't believe addiction is genetic, I think the conditions in which was born have a far greater effect on whether or not it is something we'll suffer from later in life.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by nomis View Post
Study after study has shown a massive link between addiction and childhood trauma. A land-breaking report, called the ACE study was undertaken in the early 2000's I believe. Anybody who has been affected by addiction should be familiar with it. The results have revolutionized the way experts look at addiction.

What it found was, that from of a group of 17,000 mature adults, the likelihood of someone developing addiction later in life was directly correlated to, what was termed, adverse childhood experiences, or childhood trauma. The more intense the trauma, the greater the risk factor. So for example, someone who had expeirenced multiple traumatic events in their childhood (substance abuse in their family, loss of a parent, break-up of the family, physical or sexual abuse, etc) was 4,600 times more likely in that study, to develop an intravenous drug addiction later in life compared to somebody who had experienced none of the ACE's listed.

What was so conclusive about the study was that if found a marked correlated effect between the intensity of trauma and the increased likelihood of developing a wide range of negative health risks later in life, including substance abuse and addiction.

Since that original ACE report, study after study has found the same results. You take any group of alcoholics and drug addicts and you will find that those who have experienced childhood trauma are massively over-represented in that group, by the tune of 40-80%.
Sounds interesting, I'm going to look the study up and see what it says.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:36 AM
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Also the main reason for me starting this thread is as most people know I've got a baby boy who is a few months old and since I've stopped I've been thinking about if it will be possible or not for me to protect my son from making the same mistakes I did and whether or not his thought process will be the same with regards alcohol no matter what I do.
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Old 05-07-2015, 06:49 AM
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Genetics loads the gun and the environment pulls the trigger.

I think both have to exist for alcoholism to happen.
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