Scientists Reveal Genetic Architecture Underlying Alcohol, Cigarette Abuse

The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance of developing an alcohol use disorder or addiction. Genes that affect alcohol consumption, including those noted above that affect the
very heavy consumption that is a key aspect of AUDs, can affect the risk for a
disease caused in part by alcohol29. They may increase the overall risk by increasing drinking, or
reduce risk by reducing drinking.

What are 3 personality traits that are closely related to addiction?

  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Risk taking.

How exactly a phenotype is expressed is complicated – for example, a person with one parent with green eyes and one parent with brown eyes has genes for both colors – yet usually, only one color will be expressed. But strong genes are an exception – moreover, a gene responsible for the movement of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in synapses between neurons appears to be a strong gene linked to a higher chance of an AUD. Yet is still unknown how exactly this genetic array ultimately impacts a person’s outcome. Given the lack of current treatment options for substance use disorder, the researchers also conducted analyses of a publicly available drug database to identify potential new treatments for substance abuse. The alcoholic parent is constantly drinking and may have a lax attitude about substance use in general. Even if your parents aren’t textbook alcoholics, but drink regularly and have permissive attitudes about alcohol, research shows you’re more likely to abuse alcohol.

Underage Drinking

Some of these genes have been identified, including two
genes of alcohol metabolism, ADH1B and ALDH2,
that have the strongest known affects on risk for alcoholism. Studies are
revealing other genes in which variants impact risk for alcoholism or related
traits, including GABRA2, CHRM2,
KCNJ6, and AUTS2. As larger samples are
assembled and more variants analyzed, a much fuller picture of the many genes
and pathways that impact risk will be discovered.

  • To use a legal standard, individuals could feasibly enjoy alcohol while being mindful to constantly keep their blood alcohol content (BAC) to below 0.08 percent.
  • In the future, there may be genetic therapies that help people control how much alcohol they consume; for now, behavioral therapies have proven very effective at managing these chronic health conditions.
  • Thus, the
    genes and SNPs found through GWAS have had little overlap with previous findings
    based on candidate genes/pathways and linkage analyses.
  • Analyses of RNA expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines suggested that SNPs
    within this region on chromosome 5 had cis-acting regulatory
    effects on the expression of HTR1A or
  • Alcohol use disorder is the medical term for someone dealing with alcoholism.
  • In addition to behavior modification, many people are able to overcome their alcohol use disorder with one of three approved drugs.

In addition, a fruit fly’s resistance to alcohol appears to be controlled by the same molecular mechanism as humans. But people in high-stress work environments are more likely to consume alcohol heavily than those who don’t. Reciprocal drinking is common early in relationships, and it is often hard to discern if someone is not aware of the signs. However, as the relationship progresses and you get to know each other better, if you notice that the drinking behaviors are problematic and don’t say anything, your inaction is enabling the problem to continue. Levey, D., Le-Niculescu, H., Frank, J., et al. “Genetic risk prediction and neurobiologi[…]anding of alcoholism.” Translational Psychiatry, 2014. Many people think that a breast health specialist only treats cancer, but the truth is that these doctors handle a wide range of breast-related conditions.

The genetics of alcohol dependence

Analyses of RNA expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines suggested that SNPs
within this region on chromosome 5 had cis-acting regulatory
effects on the expression of HTR1A or
IPO11. NIAAA has funded the Collaborative Studies on Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA) since 1989, with the goal of identifying the specific genes that influence alcohol use disorder. In addition, NIAAA funds investigators’ research in this important field, and also has an in-house research emphasis on the interaction of genes and the environment. NIAAA is committed to learning more about how genes affect AUD so that treatment—and prevention efforts—can continue to be developed and improved. It is not that you will automatically start to drink alcohol and get a hangover, but it’s like you’d get more into substance use dependency than others.

is alcoholism genetic

Underage drinking can stunt parts of your developing brain and increase your risk for substance abuse as an adult by two or three times. An experiment using rats at Linköping University in Sweden discovered that those with reduced expression of the gene GAT-3 become addicted to alcohol. This brain chemical that’s widely thought to be involved in alcohol dependence. Furthermore, in collaboration with a co-author from the University of Texas, the researchers took brain samples sober house of deceased people who suffered from alcohol use disorder. A dual diagnosis, with one of the diagnoses being an alcohol use disorder, is best treated in an alcohol and mental health treatment program that recognizes the co-occurring disorders and treats both with an integrated approach. It is now appreciated that a whole spectrum of allele frequencies and
effect sizes may play roles, from common variations with small effects through
rare variants of large effect.


If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, The Recovery Village is here to help. Our individualized treatment programs help people recover from alcohol addiction and begin the path toward a happier, healthier life. Contact us today to learn more about addiction recovery programs that can work well for your needs. Alcohol is highly addictive and often used to self-medicate in the face of environmental and social triggers, mental health concerns and other stressors. It can create feelings of happiness and freedom, also referred to as a buzz, which allows people to temporarily escape from financial woes, stress, family issues and other struggles. For many people, drinking alcohol is also a social activity and is perceived as a way to fit in, especially while underage.

  • You can break the cycle of addiction with the right treatment, motivation, and support.
  • Roughly 3 in 10 Americans meet the criteria to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder.
  • However, developing an alcohol use disorder typically involves a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, The Recovery Village is here to help.