Influence of Genetic Background in Alcohol Dependency

Within psychiatry, the exploration of the alcoholic gene has intensified, aiming to understand its influence on a person’s risk of alcoholism. Recent genome-wide studies (GWAS) have pinpointed specific genetic variants linked to this predisposition. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance of developing an alcohol use disorder or addiction. There are hundreds of genes in a person’s DNA that may amplify the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

1Due to space constraints the present review will use the term AUD to refer to both DSM-5 defined alcohol use disorder and DSM-IV defined alcohol dependence. The latter required the presence of 3+ symptoms out of 7 to meet diagnostic threshold. With is alcoholism inherited current review, we aim to present the recent advances in genetic and molecular studies of AUDs. Recent successes in genetic studies of AUDs will definetely motivate researchers and lead to better therapeutic interventions for this complex disorder.

Do genetic traits affect the body’s reaction to alcohol consumption?

Identifying these genes is difficult because each plays a small role in a much larger picture. Yet studies have shown that certain combinations of genes have a strong relationship to alcoholism. It’s difficult to determine the precise contribution of gene and environmental interactions in alcohol use disorders. However, the environment tends to have a stronger influence on the development of alcohol and drug abuse than genetics. Some mental health conditions may be a risk factor for developing alcohol use disorder, including clinical depression and schizophrenia, which also have a genetic component. Compared to other genetic predictors, the genomic pattern identified here was also a more sensitive predictor of having two or more substance use disorders at once.

is alcoholism inherited

We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful. Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. By the same measure, those who choose not to drink alcohol at all during their lives will not develop AUD, even if they are unknowingly at high risk, genetically speaking.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

“These genes are for risk, not for destiny,” stressed Dr. Enoch Gordis, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He added that the research could help in identifying youngsters at risk of becoming alcoholics and could lead to early prevention efforts. Despite these advances, the molecular genetic investigation of the AUD diagnosis faces multiple challenges moving forward. Perhaps the largest challenge is the way in which the AUD diagnosis is operationalized. The DSM-5 [1] currently requires the endorsement of any 2 of 11 criteria to reach the diagnostic threshold for AUD at the mild severity level.

is alcoholism inherited

The value of the COGA data as a national resource for studies of alcoholism should increase with the re-interviews and with the development of new methods for both the determination and analysis of various genotypes. These efforts ultimately are expected to lead to the identification of genes that affect the risk for alcoholism and related phenotypes. Genetic analyses using the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence as the phenotype have revealed regions on several chromosomes that appear to contain genes affecting the risk for alcoholism. The primary analyses were based upon determining the extent of allele sharing among siblings who meet diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.

What Causes Alcohol Use Disorder?

They seem to lose fewer inhibitions and tolerate alcohol for longer before they pass out. Sanchez-Roige and Palmer noted that their group has developed a 10-year partnership with 23andMe that has focused on numerous traits, especially those with relevance for addiction. This work is the basis of an academic collaboration through the 23andMe Research Program. Your socioeconomic status can directly affect your mental and physical well-being.

Family TiesAt coga’s outset, researchers at sites around the country sought to identify families severely affected by alcoholism. Many people wonder about the causes of alcohol use disorder and whether it’s genetic. While genes could have an influence on whether someone develops alcohol use disorder, environmental factors can also play a role. Ultimately, genetics can play a role in the likelihood of developing an addiction but it is not the only factor at play. There are things that you can do to reduce your risk of alcoholism, including avoiding binge drinking and controlling your environment and triggers, so that you can make healthier choices when it comes to drinking responsibly.

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Those who have a family history of alcoholism have a higher risk of developing a drinking problem. But while genetics influence our likelihood of developing alcoholism, it’s more complex. Living with inherited mental health conditions may increase the likelihood of developing alcohol use disorder. 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.

Another neurotransmitter highlighted in the development of alcoholism by the study of endophenotypes is acetylcholine, which, like GABA, affects neurons widely distributed through the central nervous system. Neurons that respond to acetylcholine–described as cholinergic neurons–also have an important role in modulating the overall balance between excitation and inhibition in the brain. Our measures of brain responses in COGA subjects uncovered a connection to the chromosomal region containing the CHRM2 gene, which encodes a particular type of cholinergic receptor known as the M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRM2). Decades ago researchers began investigating the widely observed tendency of persons from Chinese, Japanese or other East Asian backgrounds to become “flushed” when they drank an alcoholic beverage. Blood tests on subjects displaying this effect showed increased levels of acetaldehyde, a breakdown product of alcohol, which resulted in an uncomfortable sensation of warmth in the skin, palpitations and weakness.

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