Is Alcoholism Genetic?

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For those wondering, “Can alcoholism be genetic”, genetics play a significant role in the development of addiction, although individual risk for alcoholism is only about 50% determined by genes. Environmental factors and interactions between genes and the environment contribute to the remaining risk of alcoholic tendencies.

This guide explores the following issues:

  • Can alcoholism be inherited?
  • How is alcoholism genetic?
  • What does a genetic predisposition to alcoholism mean?
  • How can you access treatment for alcoholism in Ohio?
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What is Hereditary Alcoholism?

Is alcoholism genetic, then?

Hereditary alcoholism refers to the influence of genetic factors in the development of alcohol use disorder (the clinical term for alcoholism). While alcoholism is hereditary, genetic alcoholism is not solely determined by genes. Rather, it is a complex interplay between genetic predisposition, social influences, and environmental factors that contribute to the overall risk of someone developing alcoholism, a chronic and progressive brain condition.

Genetic factors contribute to an individual’s susceptibility to alcoholism. Having a family history of alcoholism increases the likelihood of genetic predisposition. This means that someone with a family history of alcoholism may be more vulnerable to developing the disorder themselves. That said, genetic predisposition does not guarantee the development of alcohol use disorder. It simply increases the risk if your family members have alcoholic genes.

Alcoholism and genetics is vigorously studied, without one single “addict gene” being isolated. Instead, many genes and variations may impact the risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. Among the genes that are closely tied to problem drinking are those related to alcohol metabolism, such as ADH1B and ALDH2. These genes influence how the body processes alcohol and can affect an individual’s tolerance and response to alcohol consumption.

It is not possible for a person to be born with alcoholism. While genetic predisposition to alcoholism may increase the susceptibility to alcohol use disorder, the development of the condition depends on a complex interaction between genetics, social influences, and environmental factors. Social and environmental factors like peer influence, family dynamics, availability of alcohol, and cultural norms surrounding alcohol use also significantly contribute to the risk of developing alcoholism.

The relationship between genetics and the environment means that social and environmental factors throughout an individual’s life can shape their alcohol use patterns and influence the development of alcoholism. For example, growing up in an environment where heavy drinking is normalized or experiencing high levels of stress and trauma can increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder, even in individuals with genetic predisposition.

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Is alcoholism hereditary or genetic?

Alcoholism has a hereditary component, meaning that it can run in families. That said, the development of alcohol use disorder is not solely determined by genetics.

Is alcoholism genetic or environmental?

Alcoholism is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, with genetics playing a significant role.

What percentage of alcoholism is genetic?

The percentage of alcoholism that can be attributed to genetics varies, but most estimates suggest that genetic factors account for around 50% of the risk.

Is there an alcohol gene?

There is not a single “alcohol gene,” but multiple genes are associated with an increased susceptibility to alcoholism.

Does alcoholism run in families?

Yes, alcoholism can run in families, indicating a familial predisposition to the disorder.

What are the epigenetic factors that contribute to alcoholism?

Epigenetic factors like DNA methylation and histone modifications, are known to contribute to the development of alcoholism by influencing gene expression and altering brain function.

Is Genetic Alcoholism Treatable?

Fortunately, genetic alcoholism is treatable. While genetics can contribute to the risk of developing alcohol use disorder, it does not determine the outcome or prevent individuals from seeking treatment.

Treatment for genetic alcoholism typically involves a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder. This may include detoxification, where the individual safely withdraws from alcohol under medical supervision, followed by rehabilitation programs that offer therapy, counseling, and support to help individuals overcome addiction and develop coping mechanisms.

Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and motivational interviewing, are often employed to address the underlying psychological factors contributing to alcohol misuse. Medications may also be prescribed to aid in the recovery process and manage cravings or withdrawal symptoms.

Support groups and aftercare programs can also play a helpful role in the long-term management of genetic alcoholism. Peer support groups and various types of aftercare provide ongoing support, guidance, and relapse prevention strategies to help individuals maintain sobriety and lead fulfilling lives.

With the right evidence-based treatment and sober support system, anyone with genetic alcoholism can achieve recovery and lead healthier, alcohol-free lives.

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 an alcohol gene in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

Ohio Recovery Centers provides personalized alcohol addiction treatment programs in an outpatient setting. For those who require more structure and support in their recovery from alcoholism, we also offer IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) at our Cincinnati rehab.

Research shows that both mild and moderate alcohol addictions just as well to intensive outpatient treatment as residential rehab. IOPs are flexible and affordable while maintaining a high level of care. Our treatment approach combines pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic therapies to equip you with relapse prevention strategies, coping techniques, and ongoing therapy if needed. For immediate assistance, please contact admissions at 877-679-2132.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn