Treatment navigators are ready to guide you. Take the first step and call:


Genetics and Alcoholism

Learn more about the link between genetics and alcoholism. Get help for alcohol addiction today and get your life back on track.

Take the first step toward recovery:

Alcoholism and Genetics. Couple arguing over alcoholism.

Table of Contents

Related Information
Questions about treatment?
Get 24/7 confidential help now:
We accept most insurances

The Link Between Genetics and Alcoholism

People who have a history of alcohol abuse are more at risk of developing a drinking problem. Studies show that alcoholism is owed to genetics by about 50%.

Our genetic structure determines all our human traits. Our DNA dictates our physical characteristics, such as eye color, and additionally, our personality characteristics – such as aggression. These genes are passed on by our parents.

Among those abusing alcohol, people who are genetically susceptible to alcoholism have a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Though people will inherit alcoholic tendencies, the start of alcohol use disorder is also attributed to social and environmental factors.

Because even though being genetically predisposed to alcoholism may result in a person becoming an alcoholic, conversely, some people who have genetic sequences making them prone to alcoholism are either occasional drinkers or never drink in their lives.

The Alcoholic Gene

There is no one gene responsible for alcoholism. There are, in fact, many genes in a person’s DNA that will increase the chance of developing alcohol use disorder. 

Distinguishing between these genes is difficult, as every small gene plays a different role in the bigger picture. Yet, studies have shown that certain combinations of genes may be more likely to lead to alcoholism.
There are also behavioral genes passed down that might influence a propensity for alcoholism. Mental health conditions, like depression and schizophrenia, are common in people with a case history of these mental illnesses.

Individuals with mental illness also have a higher risk of abusing alcohol as a way of coping or self-medicating. 

Mental disorders are hereditary, which partly explains the complicated link between genetic science and addiction.

Environment vs. Genetics

Hereditary behaviors interact with the environment to influence decision-making. Some people are more sensitive to stress, making it harder to cope with a stressful job or unhappy relationship.

Some people may experience a traumatic event and will turn to alcohol to self-soothe.

However, even those with a high genetic risk of alcohol abuse will initially be driven to try alcohol by an outside or environmental influence.
The catalyst that results in alcoholic abuse is usually an environmental factor, akin to work-related stress.
In general, the more risk factors someone has, the bigger the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder or addiction. There are also factors that lower a person’s risk.
Risk and preventative factors are either environmental or biological.

Risk factors include:

  • Aggressive behavior in childhood
  • Lack of parental guidance or supervision
  • Poor social skills
  • Alcohol and drug experimentation
  • Poverty 
  • How accessible alcohol is

Preventative factors include:

  • Self-control
  • Parental supervision
  • Performing well in school

Who is in Danger of Developing Alcoholism

People with a history of alcoholism in their families are most at risk of becoming alcoholics.

If you have at least one relative who suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction, you have the genes that put you at risk. 

Any additional family members related to you by birth, who suffer from alcoholism, increase your risk even more so.
Just because you have a higher risk of developing alcohol addiction, it does not mean that you have to resign yourself to your fate.
Some ways to lower the risk of developing alcohol use disorder include:
  • Living a healthy lifestyle 
  • Abstaining from alcohol use
  • Managing stress
  • Seeking relationship counseling 
  • Maintaining healthy friendships

Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

It is never too late to get help for alcoholism. If you are worried about your drinking and know that you have a predisposed genetic risk of developing alcoholism, it is important to seek help urgently.

Get in touch with one of our compassionate and skilled treatment navigators today for guidance on finding the right alcohol treatment program.

Get Help Today

Don’t go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you’re facing. Get in touch with one today:


Get a Call

Enter your phone number below to request a call from a Treatment Navigator: