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Is Alcoholism Inherited?

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Updated February 14, 2014

Question: Is Alcoholism Inherited?
Answer: Alcoholism tends to run in families, and genetic factors partially explain this pattern. Currently, researchers are on the way to finding the genes that influence vulnerability to alcoholism. A person's environment, such as the influence of friends, stress levels, and the ease of obtaining alcohol, also may influence drinking and the development of alcoholism. Still other factors, such as social support, may help to protect even high-risk people from alcohol problems.

Risk, however, is not destiny. A child of an alcoholic parent will not automatically develop alcoholism. A person with no family history of alcoholism can become alcohol dependent. (See also Alcohol Alert No. 18: The Genetics of Alcoholism.)

Back to: Alcoholism FAQ

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