This means they can be especially helpful to individuals at risk for relapse to drinking. Combined with medications and behavioral treatment provided by health care professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. Alcoholism is caused by multiple environmental and hereditary factors. A medication for alcoholism, such as disulfiram or acamprosate, may aid alcohol recovery.

Genes may also play a role in the effectiveness of the drug naltrexone, used to prevent relapse to drinking among people who misuse alcohol. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcohol dependence, works by disrupting the metabolism of acetaldehyde into harmless acetic acid. In the study, researchers in the Substance Use Disorders working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium compared the genomes of 15,000 people diagnosed with alcohol dependence with that of 38,000 people who were not alcohol dependent. Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain. A heavy drinking binge may even cause a life-threatening coma or death.


The genetic connection to addiction comes through inherited levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter made in your brain. Disease can be woven into your DNA — and that includes the disease of drug addiction. “The risk conferred by the ADH1B gene is one of the strongest single-gene effects seen in people with a psychiatric illness, but overall, it explains only a small proportion of the risk,” said Agrawal.

is alcohol a genetic disease

Genetics are understood to be a component of AUD, but not the sole cause. There aren’t many treatments for alcoholism based on genetics. That said, researchers in North and South America have come up with several treatment modalities for people with genes that influence alcoholism. For people with a family history of alcoholism, there are is alcoholism inherited alcoholism treatments that create unpleasant effects as an alternative to behavioral therapy, medications, and detox. Still, therapy and medication are the preferred treatment modalities for alcoholism. One study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that alcoholism is tied to genes and mental health disorders.

Am I at Risk of Becoming Addicted to Alcohol?

The GI tract is exposed to very high levels of alcohol as it passes through
the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract, and most ethanol passes through
the liver before entering the circulation. Alcohol levels in common drinks range
from approximately 5% (1.1 M) for beer, 11-15% for wine (∼3
M) and 40% for spirits (∼9 M). The oral cavity and esophagus are
directly exposed to those levels, and the liver is exposed to high levels from the
portal circulation. Thus it is not surprising that diseases of the GI system,
including cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and cancers of the upper GI tract are affected by
alcohol consumption80-86.

However, minimizing environmental factors that increase the risk, decreasing the availability of alcohol, and maximizing protective factors can help reduce the likelihood of developing AUD. Unlike many genetic disorders that are primarily caused by a single gene, “the inheritance of AUD is not due to a single gene,” says Adinoff. AUD is a complex genetic disease, and research shows that many genes can affect a person’s risk. Mutations of the GABRB1 gene can increase the risk of AUD, while the ADH1B and ALDH2 genes protect against it. If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your health care provider.

The Cycle of Addiction

The drug has been shown to work in some, but not all, people with alcohol dependence, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Culture, environment, and other genes also play a part, experts say. With current review, we aim to present the recent advances in genetic and molecular studies of AUDs. Recent successes in genetic studies of AUDs will definetely motivate researchers and lead to better therapeutic interventions for this complex disorder. Because denial is common, you may feel like you don’t have a problem with drinking. You might not recognize how much you drink or how many problems in your life are related to alcohol use.

is alcohol a genetic disease

While genes could have an influence on whether someone develops alcohol use disorder, environmental factors can also play a role. Genetic, psychological, social and environmental factors can impact how drinking alcohol affects your body and behavior. Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 16 million Americans have alcohol use disorder, which affects about 8 percent of adult men, 4 percent of adult women, and 2.5 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17. Prevention and education programs can address this risk as part of regular medical checkups.


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