Taking their first drink earlier puts them at risk of future problems with alcohol. Research has shown that those who begin drinking between the ages of 11 and 14 are significantly more likely to develop alcohol addictions than those who have their first drink at age 19 or later. The last problem in the way of a scientific cure for alcoholism is a big one.
Environmental factors, as well as gene and environment interactions, account for the remainder of the risk. Among the behavioral traits parents can pass on to their children is a predisposition toward alcohol abuse and addiction. Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male has five or more drinks within two hours or a female has at least four drinks within two hours. Here’s what you need to know about the inheritability of alcohol use disorder and its risk factors.
GWAS of AUD and related traits
If drinking alcohol makes you feel ill, you may be more likely to avoid alcohol in the first place, which can reduce the chances of developing alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition where it’s difficult to stop drinking alcohol, even when it affects your work, relationships, and health. If addiction is part of your family’s health history, you’re more prone to develop a substance use disorder. About half of your susceptibility to developing a substance use disorder (SUD) can be hereditary.
However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important. Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems. This disorder also involves having to drink more to get the same effect or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. Alcohol use disorder includes a level of drinking that’s sometimes called alcoholism. “Men have an approximately two- to three-fold higher likelihood in developing AUD,” says Adinoff.
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Commonly, genome wide association studies (GWAS) of alcoholism have focused on phenotypes based on the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In the 4th edition of the DSM (DSM-IV), alcohol dependence (AD) and abuse were considered as mutually exclusive diagnoses that together made up AUDs. DSM-V[14, 15] on the other hand consolidated AD and abuse as a single disorder as AUD,. By considering AD and abuse under single umbrella increased the number of diagnosed subjects, but this number was still not large enough to design powerful GWAS studies.
While still imperfect, science continues to identify the actual genes that account for half of the cause of alcoholism. 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. This last condition is known as alcohol intolerance and is especially common among those of Asian descent. The remaining 50% is attributed to your environment and circumstances, especially during the developmental years spanning childhood to early adulthood. Alcohol use disorder can include periods of being drunk (alcohol intoxication) and symptoms of withdrawal.
Genes contributing to the risk of alcohol dependence
Analysis of the MAXDRINK phenotype in both the initial and replication data sets (and in the combined sample) showed the strongest evidence for linkage in the same region of chromosome 4 where the ADH genes reside (Saccone et al. 2000). This finding suggests that the gene or genes influencing the MAXDRINKS phenotype may be related to the protective region identified in the unaffected sibling pairs and to protective effects of certain ADH alleles (Edenberg 2000). Analyses is alcoholism inherited of 987 people from 105 families in the initial sample provided evidence that regions on 3 chromosomes contained genes that increase the risk for alcoholism (Reich et al. 1998). The strongest evidence was for regions on chromosomes 1 and 7, with more modest evidence for a region on chromosome 2. The DNA regions identified through these analyses were broad, as is typical for studies of complex genetic diseases, and therefore are likely to contain numerous genes.
Much additional work is required to narrow the regions and attempt to determine which specific gene or genes play a role in affecting the risk for alcoholism. Therefore, additional markers within these regions of interest were analyzed in the same people. Subsequent analyses that included the additional markers supported the initial findings (Foroud et al. 2000) but did not narrow the chromosomal regions in which genes influencing alcoholism susceptibility are likely to lie. The data from the second part of the split sample—the replication sample, which comprised 1,295 people from 157 families—generally supported the initial findings (Foroud et al. 2000). Thus, the replication sample again provided evidence that genes increasing the risk of alcoholism were located in the same regions of chromosomes 1 and 7, albeit with less statistical support. When the initial and replication samples were combined, these chromosomal regions remained the strongest candidates for containing genes influencing the risk of alcoholism.
Majority of genomic data for large alcohol consumption and AUD meta-analysis was either from UKBiobank or from Million Veterans Project. Several other cohorts from dbGAP also contributed to large sample size of alcohol consumption GWAS by Liu et al, 2019. Genome-wide data on 14,904 DSM-IV diagnosed AD individuals and 37,944 controls from 28 case/control and family-based studies were meta-analyzed for PGC’s AD GWAS. Research has suggested that it’s a combination of the above risk factors as well as genetics that could determine whether or not you develop alcohol use disorder.
- The study was possible because the Human Genome Project (2003) was able to identify every gene that exists in human DNA.
- Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems.
- Contact Ark Behavioral Health today to learn about our addiction treatment programs.