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Is Alcoholism Genetic?

image of a blue DNA helix

Alcoholism and its persistence across generations raises many questions about the role of genetics in addictive behaviors. Is there truly a hereditary link, or is it simply a matter of learned behavior and environmental influence? For decades, scientists have probed the genetic makeup of individuals struggling with alcoholism in search of a definitive “alcoholism gene.” While no single gene has been determined, studies show a strong familial pattern, indicating a likely genetic component.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, getting professional help and treatment is vital to overcoming it. Call 866.430.9267 or contact Evoke Wellness at Hilliard online for information about our alcohol rehab in Ohio and how we can help.

Is Alcoholism Genetic?

While family genetics and a history of alcohol abuse can be significant determining factors as to whether a person is more susceptible to alcoholism, other factors have the potential to influence this just as much.

The environment in which genes operate is crucial. Exposure to alcohol in utero or during critical periods of brain development can have lasting effects on gene activation patterns, potentially priming an individual for the development of alcoholism. Additionally, the environment a person grows up in will also have influence. If the individual witnesses alcohol abuse in the home as a child, they may be more likely to follow learned, familiar patterns of behavior.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

From the physical deterioration to the mental health implications, long-term alcohol abuse is a multifaceted problem that requires professional support and treatment to overcome. The long-term effects of alcohol abuse can include the following:

  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease – Common in the early stages of alcohol abuse, characterized by the accumulation of fat in liver cells, can progress to more severe conditions.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis – An inflammation of the liver caused by the toxic effects of alcohol. It can lead to liver cell destruction and fibrosis.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver – This leads to scarring of the liver tissue, loss of liver function, and an increased risk of liver cancer. These effects are permanent.
  • Increased risk of heart problems – Alcohol abuse can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and cardiomyopathy—a potentially fatal condition where the heart muscle weakens and enlarges.
  • GI issues – Alcohol abuse is often linked with a range of digestive problems. The gastrointestinal system can suffer dramatically from ulcers to pancreatitis, impacting nutrient absorption and overall health.
  • Neurological issues – Alcohol doesn’t just impair judgment and slow reflexes; it can also cause long-term damage to the brain, leading to neurological conditions such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and a range of cognitive impairments.
  • New or worsening mental health issues – Alcohol is a depressant, and while it might provide temporary relief from feelings of anxiety or depression, it can exacerbate these conditions in the long run.

For individuals struggling with alcohol abuse, recognizing the long-term implications of their behavior is the first step toward healing. Embracing a life free from the grips of alcohol can seem challenging or impossible, but with the support of loved ones, professional treatment programs, and a dedication to one’s health and well-being, recovery is possible.

Contact Evoke Wellness at Hilliard for the Help You Need Today

Alcohol abuse is not a short-term concern; it’s a complex, long-term issue that requires a multi-faceted approach to overcome. By understanding the significance of its impact, we can begin on the path toward recovery and long-term sobriety. Call 866.430.9267 or contact Evoke Wellness at Hilliard online for information about our programs and your options for alcohol addiction treatment.