Since the past couple of decades, the appreciation and therapy for alcoholism has increased a lot. In actuality, now researches categorize alcoholism as a disease. There had been queries regarding the hereditary make up of alcoholic predisposition since several years but it is only recently that researches and studies have been conducted in order to clinically verify the fact that particular genetic elements are present which contribute to making alcoholism more or less probably within individuals. Furthermore, because various people respond to alcoholic consumption in very different manners, the concept of alcohol being a disease contains supporters as well as contractors.
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As mentioned above, the concept of alcohol dependency and related problems running in families dates back to the distant past. From this stems the idea that they might have resulted due to heredity factors. Even though it is a common fact that the raised levels of alcohol among the general population raised the likelihood of a person developing drinking problems and addiction, it is also to be mentioned that there are only certain people who would be at risk.
Those particular elements can be genetic or environmental and may be interceded through personality factors, like psychiatric disorder, alcohol metabolizing enzyme variations or by abnormal brain neurophysiology. Moreover, certain impediments secondary to consumption and physical addiction could result due to one more independent category of hereditary or environmental elements. Surprisingly, in spite of happening to be a typically complicated malady alcoholism has in addition, also been the one malady in psychiatry wherein the researches have recognized the impacts of genes.
Through family studies it has been established that the likelihood of alcohol dependence and similar complications happening is more in the families of the individuals who have been affected as compared to in the people who have remained unaffected (Cook & Gurling, 1989). Through twin and adoption studies it has been validated that the raised familiality is at least partially hereditary in origin (Cook & Gurling, 1989).
This paper will investigate into the evidence that is available regarding the lately explanation of there being a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
As has been mentioned above, there were adoption studies undertaken. A very important finding of those studies was the evidence that was discovered regarding the two subcategories of alcoholism. The first was type 1 and this is very much hereditary. This type was linked with criminality in adoptee and real fathers plus it starts at an early age. The second kind, type 2, was called “milieu limited” and was linked to being just slightly hereditary in origin. It originated at a later age.
Sigvardsson and his team (1996) duplicated the Stockholm, Sweden, adoption study and their evidence confirms the idea of type 1 and type 2 alcoholism as being different kinds of alcoholism. The results that were obtained from the two widely and functionally explained subcategories of alcoholism in replicated adoption studies very nicely correlates with a much reasonable understanding of the twin studies, which was that connected unfriendly characteristics or unlawful conduct signify a higher hereditary subcategory of alcoholism (Sigvardsson et al., 1996).
Clear indication has been put forward by epidemiological studies concerning the fact that hereditary elements and family history have a major part to play in the determination of an individual’s susceptibility for high alcohol usage and alcoholism.
Twin studies, adoption and cross-fostering studies, and also explained pedigree examinations all point to the fact that alcoholism runs in families. Nevertheless, there are several genes which interrelate with environmental elements in a complicated way for increasing or decreasing a person’s susceptibility to alcoholism (Cloninger et al.; Goldman & Linnoila). Actually, studies signify that the children of the people who have an alcohol dependency have a four to nine times greater danger of them becoming an alcoholic as compared to the children of parents who are not dependent (Cloninger et al.; Goldman & Linnoila).
Nevertheless, not every child inherits the hereditary elements that are linked with raised susceptibility to high alcohol consumption. A comparison was made of the physiologic, hormonal, and psychological reactions to alcohol from the individuals who have a positive or negative family history of alcoholism. This was done so as to decide whether any biological markers could be utilized for the identification of persons in high-risk families who had inherited the susceptibility for high alcohol ingestion.
“These markers could be behavioral (e.g., impulsive or violent behavior), physiological (e.g., electroencephalographic [EEG] abnormalities or body sway) or biochemical markers (e.g., enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators)” (Gianoulakis, 310).
Certainly, findings from such studies signify that a couple of physiological reactions, which includes electroencephalographic, heart rate and hormonal changes, may vary among people having or not having a family history of alcoholism. Additionally, socio-cultural studies inform on several environmental elements, for instance culture and stress, which are responsible for increasing or decreasing the danger of alcoholism. Therefore, a possible proposition can be that alcoholism is a multi-factorial malady, having a hereditary tendency interrelating with certain environmental elements.
Lately, the disease idea of alcoholism had been strengthened through the premise that at a minimum there are a couple of individuals who are at a risk due to the fact that they get a hereditary tendency to alcohol abuse from their family. Several scientists have a belief that a hereditary tendency to alcohol abuse allows for explaining the broad diversity in the human reaction toward alcohol.
There are findings from behavioral as well as molecular genetics research which point to the fact that alcoholism is partly heritable (Yoshida, 227). Nevertheless, there is a possibility that there are no particular genes which have the ability to directly predispose individuals to alcoholism, but just those genes which predispose to personality characteristics, for instance impulsive and sensation seeking kinds, which mediate the usage of alcohol. Although behavioral genetics research has not resulted in much success in the tackling of elements which can act as mediators between genes and behavior. Nevertheless, they can eventually answer the question about how these genetic effects arise (Yoshida, 227).
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Additionally, several researchers and practitioners have a belief that alcoholism can be best prevented and treated if those hereditary determinants are identifies which are accountable for vulnerability to alcohol abuse, knowledge which would be applicable, for instance, for developing the screening tests in order to detect the individuals who are at risk much prior to the commencement of alcohol usage.
If these kinds of tests would be there for the younger individuals who are at risk, the belief is that then development of suitable precautionary means could take place. Even though ongoing attempts for the elucidation of hereditary and behavioral elements inclining a person to alcoholism could assist in the creation of means that could allow for early detection, this kind of data would be required to be understood and operated cautiously.
Cloninger CR, Bohman M, Sigvardsson S, Von Knorring AL. Psychopathology in adopted-out children of alcoholics: The Stockholm adoption study. In: Galanter Marc, editor. Recent Developments in Alcoholism. New York: Plenum Press; 1985.
Cook, Chris and Hugh Gurling. Genetic factors in alcoholism. In: The Molecular Pathology of Alcoholism. Palmer, T. Norman (editor). USA: Oxford University Press; 1989.
Gianoulakis, Christina. “Influence of the endogenous opioid system on high alcohol consumption and genetic predisposition to alcoholism”. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. 26.4 (2001): 304–318.
Goldman, David and Markku Linnoila. “Genetic approaches to alcoholism”. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 10.2 (1986): 237-42.
Sigvardsson, Soren, Michael Bohman and C. Robert Cloninger. “Replication of the Stockholm adoption study of alcoholism”. Archives of General Psychiatry 53.8 (1996): 681-687.
Yoshida, Rin. Trends in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Research. 1st ed. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2006.