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Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

Abstract: Children of alcohol-dependent parents run a higher risk of developing an alcohol problem than other children.

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Is Alcoholism Hereditary?

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Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 22 Jul 2008.

Is alcohol addiction hereditary?


Children of alcohol-dependent parents run a higher risk of developing an alcohol problem than other children. This has to do with three factors:

Heredity : investigations have shown that there can be a certain hereditary tendency for getting alcohol problems. This goes even more for sons of dependent fathers than for daughters. It is unknown how big the extra risk is, but children of alcohol addicts must keep in mind that they have a greater chance to develop alcohol problems. Some studies talk about a higher risk of about 50%. It is also known that certain personality characteristics, which are partly inherited, influence the risk of getting addicted. People who are often anxious, and who seek excitement in life, and who are more antisocial, will more often become alcoholists. More.

Influence of the environment : when you grow up in an environment in which people drink a lot, you can suffer from this as a child. You can feel less happy because you get less attention or because you get insecure about the sometimes unpredictable or maybe threatening behavior of your father or mother. An unhappy childhood can then play a role in the development of alcohol problems at a later age.

Habits : If your parents drink a lot, you can get used to always having alcohol everywhere. You can take over the habit to drink a lot from your parents without even thinking about it.

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