It’s always an interesting topic to discuss about alcohol use disorder. When someone has reached the point of being an alcoholic, it’s not only how to wake up and leave the old habit. It’s also about reflecting to the past, of what caused the alcohol use disorder. Why is it important? By knowing this, someone can prevent to fall into the same trap, with the same pattern, in the future. Previously we have discussed about is genetic accounted for alcoholism. And now, it’s turn to talk about hereditary role in alcohol use disorder. Maybe genetic and hereditary are 2 closely related things. So it’s important to know about each definition by now.
Difference of Hereditary and Genetic
Both of hereditary and genetic are related to what runs within the family. These 2 things are so interrelated. Genetic traits are the similar genes in some parts of the body, like hair and eyes color. It comes from the DNA from the parents. While hereditary, it is also passed down or inherited in a family. Unlike specific traits like genes do, hereditary tends to specifically focus about characteristic. Hereditary is a concept. By learning about the difference of hereditary and genetic, we can see that hereditary is more to the character, not the specific traits written in the DNA. For your information, our previous article about how genes accounted for alcoholism stated that genetic factor does influence the alcohol use disorder situation. What about the hereditary role?
Hereditary Role in Alcohol Use Disorder
So when we ask about hereditary role in alcohol use disorder, the answer is yes. But not completely yes, because there are other factors contribute to alcohol use disorder condition. We can conclude that hereditary role is partial in alcohol use disorder. Professor Gene Heyman from Harvard University stated that 20 percent of alcohol users tend to be addicted to alcohol. It is also influenced by the characteristic within the family. If most of the family members are regular or even acute alcohol drinker, then the prevalence of being an alcoholic is also high.
Everyone has the potency of being an alcoholic, the difference is just how the ability to control alcoholism. Hereditary, holds important role in this stage. There are people with fast ability to control the addiction; meanwhile there are also a lot of people who have slow ability. The speed of respond to potential of alcoholism depends on hereditary role. A research from Purdue and Indiana University gave emphasize to this fact. According to their experiment, there are 930 genes associated with alcoholism condition. So we can see that there are so many complex traits that contribute to their own role within the process of changing regular drinker to alcoholic.
Hereditary and How the Brain Works
For a person who consumes alcohol to ease the stress during hard times, it is no doubt that alcohol becomes the sanctuary for him. The brain gives command to the body through neurotransmitter. One of the neurotransmitters that control pleasure and relaxed feeling is called dopamine. When the brain releases dopamine, a person will feel the relaxing and joyful effect. The same thing works when someone drinks alcohol. When consuming alcohol gives pleasure feeling effectively, the body will demand for the same thing, repeatedly. The tolerance level of alcohol intake will also increase, as the drinking frequency gets higher.
Science Daily proved this fact. One of five dopamine receptors is called DRD2 gene. This is the gene that influences possibility of becoming an alcoholic person. While gene ANKK1 works closely related with addictive behavior of the body. By analyzing the similar functions, we can see that these genes play prominent role during the process to alcohol use disorder condition. In the extent of hereditary, it influences how a person controls these genes. Perhaps there is someone who can avoid the addiction to alcohol, and someone else who can’t. That is the heredity role in alcohol use disorder.
Count to Other Factors
Alcohol use disorder is partially hereditary. But it doesn’t mean that 100 percent factor of alcoholism is inherited from the parents. There are countless factors that contribute to alcohol use disorder:
- The tradition of the family. This is different with hereditary, hence called the external factor. Aside from the hereditary, how the family members treat alcoholic drink is counted as the trigger. We can simply see the difference of how the family members get used to purchase alcoholic drink or have a night-out in frequent times.
- Access to alcoholic drinks. The more accessible the drinks are, the bigger possibility to support alcoholism condition. When it’s easy to purchase drink, this is also influence the starting age of family member to start drinking,
- It is a common thing that someone considers alcohol drinks as his friend during boredom. Like what we mentioned above, drinking alcohol gives pleasure and relaxing effect to the body. And it is impossible that someone never feel boredom. When alcohol comes as a friend during boredom, who can resist?
- Peer pressure. Not only from family members that someone lives in the same house together, friends also count as the factor of alcoholism. It is possible that someone belongs to a circle with alcoholic drinking habit. Moreover, it’s hard to avoid their invitation to have a night out. This is why the peer sometimes can give pressure to consume alcohol. It is totally different with hereditary role in alcohol use disorder.
- Traumatizing events. When someone has bad experience in the past, it will be more likely that he will come to alcohol as the way to self-medicate. Everyone can feel this, aside from the hereditary factor. The bad experience can be abuse or violence, both physically and mentally. If this is the trigger, then it’s time to talk with the expert about how to make peace with the traumatizing past.
So these are external or environmental factors that contribute to alcohol use disorder condition. The influence is different with hereditary role in alcohol use disorder. The Director of Molecular Genetics Lab of Virginia Commonwealth University, Brien Riley emphasized that genes play major role to addictions. How someone can control the addiction relates heavily with this part. Professor Howard Thomas from Newcastle University also stated that even though someone has been involved in alcohol use disorder, the possibility to leave the addiction is still open.
Everyone has the possibility to become alcoholic. It’s your own call to control the addiction toward alcoholic drinks. If we are talking about hereditary alcoholism, basically it’s completely avoidable because the choice is still on us. Make healthy decisions to our own life, because we can’t always blame the drinking habit to our parents. Hereditary role in alcohol use disorder is just partial, and can be avoided by any means.