Monthly Archives: July 2020

Overview Of The Genetics Of Alcohol Use Disorder

The signs of an AUD might be clear as day to friends and family, but alcoholics can have a difficult time admitting there is a problem and continue their lives in denial. Treatment centers and groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can offer support and tools for you to start on the path to recovery. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to reach out to a treatment provider for rehab-related support. 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. Factors like strong family bonds, close ties to institutions, and academic success can all help prevent the development of alcoholism. If someone has a family history of alcohol addiction but protective factors are in place, alcoholism can skip a generation.

Genetics of Alcoholism

Prescott CA, Kendler KS. Genetic and environmental contributions to alcohol abuse and dependence in a population-based sample of male twins. Excessive alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking, contributes to many other diseases, including cirrhosis and cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract, colon, rectum and liver. Genes that affect the quantity and frequency of drinking impact the risk of many of these diseases. In more anecdotal cases where, for example, celebrity offspring of infamous drug and alcohol abusers, whether they’ve always been sober or whether they’re on a program, it’s hard to say if genetics or environment played a part.

When the drinking becomes habitual, the risk of developing alcohol dependence is more determined by their genetic makeup. Alcoholism is not a matter of choice and should also not be viewed as a moral failure or a lack of willpower. Mizokawa et al., 2013) utilizes 11 criteria pertaining to excessive alcohol use, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence.

The Genetics Of Alcohol Dependence

Rehab Spot is here to help family members of those struggling with substance abuse. If you’re struggling with drug addiction, treatment providers can help. ADH1Breduces the clearance rate of alcohol from the liver, while people who haveADH1B,another variant of the ADH gene, process alcohol quickly, which elevates levels of acetaldehyde faster, the alcohol metabolite that causes hangovers. This choice is influenced by outside factors like peer pressure, family disapproval, availability.

  • Occurring more often in Asian populations , for example, is a gene variant that creates uncomfortable side effects when drinking, such as flushing, nausea, and a sped-up heartbeat.
  • According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, people with an alcoholic parent are about four times as likely to struggle with alcohol, and numerous studies echo this connection to one degree or another.
  • Living with inherited mental health conditions may increase the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder.
  • Unfortunately, studies of alcohol dependence have not yet attained these sample sizes.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in America, and also one of the most common addictions. Et al. “Adverse childhood experiences, alcoholic parents, and later risk of alcoholism and depression.” Psychiatric Services, August 2002. Alcoholic Environment–This factor is when an individual grows up with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol. An estimated 70% of adult children of alcoholics will also suffer from compulsive behaviors.

The Effects Of Genes On Treatment?

Rather, one possibility is that there are variations in genes that get expressed in different ways in a carrier’s body. For example, gene variations can predispose individuals to depression, which in turn can predispose them to alcohol abuse. A genetic disposition to alcohol abuse does not mean a person will develop an alcohol use disorder. Less than half of the children of people with an alcohol use disorder will develop an alcohol use disorder.

Alcoholism itself is a complicated disease, but there do seem to be genetic links involved. One of the most common questions people have surrounding alcoholism is whether or not it’s genetic, and if so, what happens when alcoholism runs in the family. The interaction between alcoholism and genetics can explain why the condition runs in families. Sana Lake Recovery Center is a Joint Commission Accredited addiction treatment program. We offer a safe and trustworthy facility for people struggling with substance abuse.

Because of this, people with the genes ADH1B and ALDH2 might be less likely to develop the condition than those without it. If alcohol tends to make you feel ill, it could be because of a genetic component. As one 2015 article in Nature points out, researchers have not been able to identify a single gene that determines whether or not you develop an addiction. Additionally, about 1.7% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 were reported as having alcohol use disorder in 2019. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , 5.6% of adults in the United States were living with alcohol use disorder in 2019.

The most common initial approach was linkage analysis, in which markers throughout the genome were measured to identify chromosomal regions that appeared to segregate with disease across many families. The drawback to this approach is that linkage studies find broad regions of the genome, often containing many hundreds of genes. In many cases, the initial linkage studies were followed by more detailed genetic analyses employing single nucleotide polymorphisms that were genotyped at high density across the linked regions. Some of the genes identified through this approach have been replicated across a number of studies and appear to be robust genetic findings. Despite the evidence supporting the prominence of genetic factors in AUD’s etiology, the identification of genetic risk variants has been difficult and labor intensive.

Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. These are things that we can remain mindful of as we continue to develop an understanding of alcoholism on a personal basis. The sensitive mice tend to lose their inhibitions and pass out rather quickly, earning them the nickname “long sleepers.” “Short sleepers” are mice that are genetically less sensitive to alcohol.

In the study of complex disorders, it has become apparent that quite large sample sizes are critical if robust association results are to be identified which replicate across studies. Unfortunately, studies of alcohol dependence have not yet attained these sample sizes. Meta-analyses, which combine results across a number of studies in order to attain the critical sample sizes needed, are being developed. Dick says previous research has suggested chemicals that increase GABA receptor activity can accentuate the behavioral effects of alcohol, such as sedation, loss of anxiety and problems with motor coordination.

Living With An Alcoholic Family Member

In one study, scientists analyzed the genomes of 15,000 alcoholics and 38,000 non-abusers. The researchers found that people who had a specific variant of the gene that controls how the body converts alcohol to the hangover-causing chemical compound acetaldehyde were at greater risk to become dependent on alcohol.

Genetics of Alcoholism

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. Living with inherited mental health conditions may increase the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder. The NIAAA points out that genes are only responsible for about half the risk of developing AUD. Environmental factors can also play a role in determining whether someone develops this condition.

Binge Drinking– The act of overindulging in alcohol by habitual binge, or heavy drinking over some time, that affects the brain’s reward center. Genetics and heredity are closely related, but from a medical perspective, there are differences between genetic and hereditary diseases.

Genetic Testing Information

When questioning if alcoholism is genetic, remember to consider multiple factors. Researchers believe that specific genes can make drinking a pleasant or unpleasant experience. AUD prevention could be enhanced with a growing knowledge of the disorder’s neurobiology and genetics. A growing body of literature on AUD genetics will improve both the understanding of at-risk individuals’ biology and the development of new medications.

  • When combined, both the ADH and ALDH2 variants are highly protective against the risk of developing AUD.
  • Those who have a family history of alcoholism have a higher risk of developing a drinking problem.
  • Seitz HK, Meier P. The role of acetaldehyde in upper digestive tract cancer in alcoholics.

The same ADH1B gene was linked to alcoholism risk in both populations but in different variants. First, there may be something about identical twin males, genetically speaking, that makes them more likely to express an alcohol use disorder if one twin has one as compared to females . As researchers have noted, other genes can play a role in the development of an alcohol use disorder. Second, if an identical twin has a sister or brother who has an alcohol use disorder, the odds are not that they will also develop one. Among males, it’s 50 percent, not 51 percent, which would mean that the development of an alcohol use disorder was more likely than not. There is no gene or set of genes that puts a person at risk specifically for alcohol abuse.

This suggests that even if you’ve been separated from your biological relatives, a genetic history of alcohol abuse still has an impact. Firstly, studies of adopted children raised with alcoholic siblings showed a higher likelihood of alcohol abuse than otherwise. This means that, even if you don’t share genes with your relatives, the experience of growing up with family members who abuse alcohol may increase your risk.

The Factors Involved

Photo by Daniil Kuželev on UnsplashEpigenetics is the “fancy poster child” of genetics research. Studies suggests that triggers in your environment can alter the way your genes express themselves—effectively turning genes on or off. What’s even more interesting is that you may be able to partially pass these changes on.

On the other hand, alcoholism can become a pattern that affects multiple generations in a row. Research has also dived into the study of epigenetics, which means that different factors can alter the expression of our Genetics of Alcoholism genes. Scientists continue to study epigenetics and how its effects on the risk of alcoholism. Genetics are passed down through families, but family history also involves the environment that a person was raised.

A study in Sweden followed alcohol use in twins who were adopted as children and reared apart. The incidence of alcoholism was slightly higher among people who were exposed to alcoholism only through their adoptive families. However, it was dramatically higher among the twins whose biological fathers were alcoholics, regardless of the presence of alcoholism in their adoptive families.

Although studies spanning multiple approaches have suggested a genetic basis for AUD, identification of the genetic risk variants has been challenging. Some promising results are emerging from GWAS studies; however, larger sample sizes are needed to improve GWAS results and resolution. As the field of genetics is rapidly developing, whole genome sequencing could soon become the new standard of interrogation of the genes and neurobiological pathways which contribute to the complex phenotype of AUD. Those with a history of alcoholism in their family have the highest risk of becoming alcoholics. If you have multiple relatives with alcohol addictions or other substance use disorders, you may have inherited the genes that put you at risk.

Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. Our hereditary behaviors interact with our environment to form the basis of our decisions. Some people are more sensitive to stress, making it harder to cope with an unhealthy relationship or a fast-paced job. Some people experience a traumatizing event and turn to alcohol to self-medicate.

If you or a loved one has already developed a problem, there are outpatient and inpatient programs that can help. Alcohol use disorder does not have a clear pattern of inheritance, although many affected individuals have a family history of problems with alcohol or other substances. Children of people with alcohol use disorder are two to six times more likely than the general public to develop alcohol problems. This increased risk is likely due in part to shared genetic factors, but it may also be related to environment, lifestyle, and other nongenetic influences that are shared by members of a family. There are also behavioral genes passed down that could influence a propensity for alcoholism. Mental illnesses, such as depression and schizophrenia, are more common in people with a family history of these disorders. People with mental illness have a higher risk of turning to substance abuse as a way of coping.

As noted above, the functional ADH1B polymorphism is not represented on GWAS platforms; GABA-receptor genes are often nominally significant but well below genome-wide significance in these studies. Thus, the genes and SNPs found through GWAS have had little overlap with previous findings based on candidate genes/pathways and linkage analyses. There are several other genes that have been shown to contribute to the risk of alcohol dependence as well as key endophenotypes. The earliest genes were typically identified as a result of family-based analyses. In most cases, studies recruited families having multiple members with alcohol dependence; such families are likely to segregate variants that affect the risk of alcohol dependence.