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Awareness and Addiction: Can You Overcome Your Alcoholism Gene?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism." While alcoholism often seems to run in families, there are other factors that may lead someone to become an alcoholic--like environmental factors. While genetics may predispose someone for alcoholism, they aren't responsible for the whole picture. In fact, even with genes that predispose you to alcoholism, you can overcome this genetic influence and lead a life free from the destructive impact of alcohol abuse.

How Can Alcoholism Be Hereditary?

First, science is still unraveling the mysteries inherent in genetics. However, studies suggest that neurochemical messages or signals leave some people predisposed for abusing alcohol. Inherited gene expressions may make someone more prone to alcoholism than someone who has not inherited this genetic composition. Of course, as Web MD asserts, "alcoholism is a complex disease" and its genetic factors are subject to ongoing research.

Don't Hide from Your Genes

If alcoholism runs in your family, it's ideal to be aware of the fact and how this could affect your life and choices. Because the behavior of family is also influential (i.e. parents drink to drown their sorrows), some offspring may simply follow suit as a matter of learned behavior and not simply as a matter of genetic composition. In either case, by acknowledging that there is a potential for abuse, you can better protect yourself from succumbing to over-indulgence.

Watch for Signs

Experts say that people who suffer from depression and anxiety may be more genetically disposed to alcohol abuse. Do you drink when you are anxious or upset? If so, this can be an attempt, a negative attempt, to reduce those sad or anxious emotions. Are you able to stick to a limit when it comes to drinking or do you frequently surpass limits? If you can't stop drinking or police yourself, it's time to ask for help and seek an effective solution.

Find a Treatment that Works

While some find 12-step programs helpful, others require help with the physical symptoms associated with quitting their addictive behavior like drinking. Biophysical detox is an effective way to deal with the physical effects of alcohol detox. Cravings affect a person's ability to stay on track with their recovery plan. Finding a solution that works is essential for finally kicking the destructive alcohol habit. There's no reason you have to find those solutions entirely on your own; there are professionals and groups that can help.

Change Your Lifestyle

Too often lifestyle poses challenges for someone trying to overcome an alcohol addiction. While it takes effort to combat your genetic influence, it takes still more to overcome the influence that lifestyle poses. If weekends are spent at bars with other people who drink, it may be difficult to avoid the temptation to drink. Finding new ways to cope with depression or other causes that lead you to drink are also important considerations.

People can overcome their genetic predisposition to abuse alcohol; however, it takes serious commitment and willingness to seek help. Tap into those helpful resources and you'll build your own support system, a system that can foster your success to stop abusing alcohol for good.

Albert Stayton is a family counselor whose central focus is addiction. He shares his research and experience with others to assist in responding to addictive behavior.

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