Is Alcohol Addiction Hereditary?

How Family History Impacts Alcohol Addiction

When you have grown up with loved ones that have battled a life of alcohol abuse, you want to know what your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder is. According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the greatest risk of developing an alcohol use disorder is a family history of addiction. You have seen the severe impact that alcohol abuse can have on a person’s life and want to be prepared to know which factors of your life can contribute to developing alcohol use disorder to put protective factors in place to avoid a life of alcohol abuse.

One key component associated with a family history of alcohol addiction is the genetic component of individuals within the family unit. Genes can impact how a person metabolizes alcohol which significantly impacts the way alcohol affects you and the levels of intoxication experienced. Genes can impact how nerve cells signal one another and regulate their activity. Studies have shown that children who had adoptive parents with no history of alcohol addiction but had birth parents with a family history of alcohol addiction were four times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction demonstrating that the genetic component can far outweigh the environmental factor.

Risk Factors for Developing Alcohol Addiction

Common risk factors for individuals developing alcohol use disorders are:

  • Genetic component
  • Growing up witnessing loved ones or others in your home environment engage in alcohol abuse as the addictive behavior becomes normalized
  • Environmental factors include where you live as some countries or regions may have a higher number of individuals abusing alcohol as it is a societal norm creating normalcy to addiction.
  • Family wealth has been proven to increase the likelihood to develop an alcohol addiction
  • Social factors include peer pressure or societal norms placed in certain situations. Individuals entering college where consuming alcohol can feel like a regular occurrence in the social scene of college are at a higher risk of engaging in alcohol consumption.
  • Experiencing high levels of stress
  • Having co-occurring disorders or mental health conditions individuals will turn to substance abusers as a method of self-medicating and mitigating the severity of side effects felt
  • Having low self-esteem or poor self-image and self-worth

Traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics

Growing up with parents abusing alcohol can greatly impact a person’s ability to navigate adulthood in a variety of characteristics including:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Isolation
  • Inconsistency or lack of follow-through
  • Difficulty managing or having healthy romantic relationships
  • Approval or attention-seeking from others to feel validation or self-worth
  • Inability to manage change or an overreaction to change outside of their control
  • Perceived victimhood or placing blame on others
  • Excessive or unnecessary lying
  • Judgmental behavior towards themselves and others
  • Developing alcohol use disorders or substance use disorders

How To Avoid Alcohol Addiction When It Runs In The Family

If you have a family history of alcohol use disorders, you want to take the necessary precautions to ensure that you avoid a life of alcohol abuse. If you are concerned about yourself or your loved ones developing AUD, here are some precautionary steps you can take to avoid alcoholism:

  • Gain an understanding of your family history of alcohol or drug addiction to better understand the genetic components present
    If you are engaging in alcohol abuse, limit your consumption to a one or two drinks to avoid heavy drinking or binge drinking behaviors
  • Get support for any co-occurring disorders to maintain the severity of symptoms from your mental health disorders.
  • Speak with a health care provider or your family doctor about your concerns with addiction and family history.
  • Become self-aware as to why you are engaging in substance abuse, if you are partaking in alcohol abuse as a way of coping with stress or mitigating symptoms of a mental health disorder, you should speak with a counselor or medical provider for alternative methods of coping.

When To Seek Help For Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol abuse can progress quickly if you are not aware and mindful of the rate of consumption. Once your use of alcohol has begun to negatively impact your life causing harmful physical side effects or impacting your emotional or mental health or becoming a consistent part of your everyday life, it is time to look at the growing concern that you may be suffering from alcoholism. If your alcohol consumption has become a concern in your life or a loved one’s life, it may be time to consider alcohol interventions to provide the support needed through alcohol treatment.

At TruPath, you can address your substance abuse through our inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment where you will be able to gain an understanding of the root causes of your addiction through evidence-based therapy methods. Types of therapy to support patients in overcoming substance abuse includes:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Holistic treatment methods
  • Life skills and relapse prevention methods

If you are concerned about your chances of risk of alcohol addiction or feel as though you are ready to get the support of an alcohol treatment program, contact TruPath today to have any questions answered about your personal history with alcohol abuse and the impacts any family history of addiction has within you. Our team is dedicated to supporting our patients to find their way into sobriety.

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