What causes alcoholism?

in Disease

 

Alcoholism is a potentially debilitating and even life-threatening disease that is no respecter of persons. There are two things that can cause alcoholism and these are nature (a genetic predisposition) and nurture (a predisposition based on their upbringing). Some people are cursed with both of these aspects of the disease, making it even more difficult for them to live a life of sobriety. Difficult, but not impossible.

It is not an addiction that is set aside for the homeless, the criminal or the abuser. It can take hold of anyone with a firm grip. Alcoholism runs in families and is linked to a specific DNA strand that can be seen running very strong in some families, affecting essentially every member to some degree. Although the person can control the symptoms and avoid the triggers that make their need and/or desire for the substance greater, they will always have a predisposition to falling into the addictive behavior with alcohol being their drug of choice.

Those who are genetically linked to the disease of alcoholism will not be able to be your garden variety social drinker ever in their lifetime. The disease will always be just a drink away. Even if they manage to drink socially a time or two, or even more, eventually it will become uncontrollable and they will no longer be in charge of the decision put it down when the time is appropriate. This can lead to more than just embarrassment as they make choices that are out of character for them. It can also lead to monetary troubles, career issues, legal problems and a variety of other undesirable consequences.

Even if one generation with the alcohol prone cell structure is able to live without succumbing to the disease, the gene will continue to be passed on and on in the same way that any other gene is. This is why you may see one generation that shows no outward signs of the disease and the next may produce multiple using alcoholics.

Nurture refers to the environment we are raised in. People who are raised around alcohol may see this as a normal lifestyle and continue the pattern of drinking as a part of daily life. Families that contain one or more alcoholic are often linked to abuse and neglect of the children, as well. This, too, can play a part in the future addicts that will spring forth from this lineage of substance abuse and addiction. These adult children who leave the homes of mistreatment may turn to alcohol to mask the pain of their memories from growing up in such families. The dysfunction breeds alcoholism as well as any gene does.

No matter if the alcoholic is prone to the disease through nature, nurture or a combination of the two, there is treatment available to keep the symptoms at bay, essentially putting the disease in remission. As of now, there is no cure for alcoholism, but there are many things that a person can do to guard themselves against allowing it to rampage through their lives and destroy them.

 

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This article was published on 2010/10/31