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Parental Alcoholism Increases Offspring's Risk

By April 19, 2011

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Research has long shown a increased risk of developing alcoholism by the children of parents with alcohol problems. Now a new large-scale, population based study confirms that parental alcoholism is linked to a greater risk of alcoholism in their children.

The study involved 7,177 Danish parents born in Copenhagen between October 1959 and December 1961.

There have been many studies about the risk involved with a family history of alcoholism, but most of them were based on much smaller samples. The Danish study is one of the first longitudinal population studies conducted over multiple generations.

The study found that the link between parental alcoholism and alcohol use disorders among offspring exists independent of other factors including gender, parental social status and parental psychiatric hospitalization for other diagnoses.

Risk Stronger For Females

"Furthermore, this association appeared to be stronger among female than male offspring, which suggests that inherited factors related to alcohol use disorders are at least as important among daughters as among sons," lead author Erik Lykke Mortensen said in a news release. "This finding is important because some early studies suggested that a genetic load played a stronger role in males than in females."

If you have or had a parent with a drinking problem, you need to be aware that your own alcohol consumption could easily develop into an alcohol use disorder.

Source: Mortensen E, "The Contribution of Parental Alcohol Use Disorders and Other Psychiatric Illness to the Risk of Alcohol Use Disorders in the Offspring," Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. April 2011.

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April 19, 2011 at 2:30 am
(1) DrugAbuseSolutions says:

I think that one thing that shouldn’t be ignored here is the fact that the strongest factor contributing to parental alcoholism being such an influence is the example they set and the lessons they teach their child by said example. Regardless of genetics, you are more likely to use a substance to cope with life if you have seen your parents do so. This becomes “okay” in your mind.

That being said, parents should be careful about what messages about substances they communicate to their children.

April 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm
(2) S. G. Reeves says:

Parental alcoholism can be descibed as modeling the use of drugs to cope with stress and may infact demonstrate tolerance of those behaviors in their children. Those parental behaviors may support abuse but genetics make an addict. Many sons and daughters of the alcoholic/drug dependent vow to never emulate the abusive behaviors that they grew up with only to fall prey to their own biology.

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