Alcoholism: Learned Behavior or Heredity?

f you have an issue with alcohol, you may worry if your addiction could be passed on to your children.

If you have drinkers in your family, you may wonder if you will inherit this problem in the future.

Let’s look at alcoholism and heredity.

The bad news is that if you have alcohol abuse in your family, it can be passed on to future generations. The good news is this predisposition can be avoided.

Many factors contribute to alcohol addiction. Having or being an alcoholic parent does not mean that the issue is inevitable in your or your children.

The knowledge that an alcohol issue can be passed on to family members can serve two purposes. If you are afraid of the effects alcohol may have on you, heed this as a warning. If you have a drinking problem now but want to spare your children, stop and take control.

Alcoholism can run in families. Genetics are thought to be a link for the disease and much research has been done. Genetics alone cannot cause an alcoholic. Environmental factors also play a role. Learned behavior also has its place as an influence for alcoholism.

Genes may have an effect, but environment plays its part. If you grow up in a home where alcohol abuse occurs, you have a front row seat to the disease. You would think that this would be cause for you to turn away from alcohol, but often the opposite happens. The only way you may know how to deal with everyday life’s ups and downs is by drinking.

Families with one or two alcoholic parents can have an adverse effect on a child. The home can spawn anxiety, tension, chaos, and instability. Abuse may even occur. Under achievement and trouble fitting in are also experienced by a child in an alcohol abusing home. Children turn to alcohol or other drugs to dull the pain they feel living in this environment.

Learned behavior or bad habits also have an influence on who becomes an alcoholic and who does not. If having drinking is the norm in a household, then that may be the only behavior a child learns. If the home appears to function on any level, then the alcohol abuse is not seen as a problem.

Besides the risk of passing the disease of alcoholism on to a child, there is another side effect. Often children with an alcoholic parent seek a significant other with a similar problem in order to recreate the norm that they are used to in a relationship.

Yes, if there is alcoholism in your family, there is a risk that it can be passed along to others through genes, environment, and/or learned behavior. Take it as a warning to not start drinking or to stop. Knowledge is power and choices are important.