Menu Close

Is Alcohol Addiction Hereditary? 

young man poses with skateboard

You may have heard, or even noticed based on your own observations, that alcohol abuse tends to run in families.  While there is some evidence to suggest that there is a genetic component to the development of alcohol use disorder, addiction is too complex to be narrowed down to any one causal factor.  Many people still refer to an “alcoholic gene” that causes people to have an “addictive personality” or to become especially weak-willed around alcohol. This concept is not based on science, and further perpetuates the stigma that people with addictions are somehow fundamentally flawed.   Research has concluded with a significant amount of confidence that children exposed to alcohol abuse in the home are more likely to become addicted to alcohol themselves.  While some researchers used this association as a reason to suspect genetic predisposition, it can just as easily be explained by the psychological factors that come from seeing substance abuse in your environment.  Seeing alcohol used in excess can influence a child’s perception of what is considered normal, and alcohol addiction can cause immense strain on the entire family through conflict and financial problems. Witnessing family issues as a result of alcohol abuse can also cause a child to experience poor mental health, which may later contribute to alcohol use. In addition to the environmental factors involved in the development of addiction, mental health also plays a large role in substance abuse.  People who abuse alcohol have higher rates of anxiety and depression, and these mental health issues have been found to be influenced by genetic factors.  This means that if a parent has chronic depression and self-medicates with alcohol, the child may genetically inherent depressive tendencies and self-medication may come as a result of a learned behavior.  Every circumstance is unique, but what is clear is that alcohol addiction is not ever the result of an isolated genetic predisposition towards substance abuse.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.