Alcoholism: A Complicated Genetic Disorder

Alcoholism: A Complicated Genetic Disorder

Alcoholism: A Complicated Genetic Disorder

“It’s not one gene, one problem. This trait is controlled by vast numbers of genes and networks. This probably dashes water on the idea of treating alcoholism with a single pill.”

~Dr. William Muir, PhD, Professor of Genetics at the Indiana University School of Medicine

A new study conducted by researchers at Purdue and Indiana University has identified 930 different genes associated with alcoholism, each with small effect. This only to serves to highlight complexity of the disease.

In order to understand the effect of genetics on alcoholism, Dr. Muir and his colleague, Dr. Feng Zhou, a Professor of Anatomy and Biology, studied rats that were specifically bred over several decades to have a predisposition to drink. This is different from nature, where rats have a natural aversion to large amounts of alcohol.

Inherited genetics is one of the best predictors of human alcoholism, but scientists still have a poor understanding just how much influence each of the individual risk factors of genetics, environment, stress, trauma, personal habits, and comorbid disorders has.

Dr. Muir explains, “It’s very difficult to tease out the difference between what your genes are telling you to do and what you choose to do…We all have the genes for alcoholism, but our genetic abilities to control it differ.”

Dr. Zhou concurs, saying, “Even with the same genetics, one person might be prone to getting drunk, while another doesn’t drink at all. Your environment can trigger the expression of genetic tendencies toward alcoholism.”

The complexity of substance abuse disorders means that treatment must be both individualized and evidence-based. This is exactly the strategy utilized by Lasting Recovery outpatient rehab in San Diego. By combining established protocols with accepted holistic treatments, Lasting Recovery gives clients their best chance to return to sobriety, sanity, and serenity.

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