young man and his grandfather sitting together on the couch discussing can alcoholism be hereditary

Can Alcoholism Be Hereditary?

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain, particularly areas of motivation and reward. However, one of the questions that scientists continue to explore is whether alcoholism is genetic and how much hereditary traits factor into an addiction. In other words, is alcohol hereditary, and if someone in your family is an alcoholic, how likely are you to become an alcoholic and ultimately require alcohol addiction treatment?

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, The Right Step Houston can help. We offer evidence-based treatment programs designed to help you achieve long-term sobriety. Contact us today at 1.844.768.0169 to learn more about our program.

Genetics and Hereditary Traits: What’s the Difference?

Genetics and heredity are not necessarily the same when it comes to diseases. What is the difference?


A person may have an abnormality in their genome. This means that they may have a genetic disposition that makes them gravitate toward substance abuse. It’s what is commonly known as an addictive personality. You may have zero interest in taking drugs or drinking alcohol. However, you may suddenly become hooked after you try it for the first time.

Hereditary Traits

Hereditary traits are specific traits passed from your parents’ DNA to your DNA. These traits can characterize different things about you, such as the way you look, act, or think. It can also determine whether you are likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Is alcoholism hereditary? Can you get it from your parents? This is a common and complex question.

Why Hereditary Traits Are Difficult to Identify

If you are living with other relatives who are alcoholics, and you become an alcoholic, what factors led to your alcoholism? While hereditary traits may be a factor, other things could contribute to your addiction, such as:

  • Environment: Being around alcohol all of the time
  • Trauma: Experiencing abuse or neglect due to alcoholism
  • Social factors: Your friends or coworkers drink regularly
  • Age: You started using alcohol or drugs at a young age
  • Stress: You drink to relax from a long day at work

Hereditary traits could undoubtedly contribute to your alcoholism. However, it is difficult to isolate addiction as being a hereditary problem when there are other factors that may contribute to alcoholism.

The Role of Genetics in Alcoholism

While scientists have not found an “alcoholism gene,” they have discovered that there are certain genetic markers that may make you predisposed to alcoholism. Studies show that your genes determine about 50% of your risk for alcoholism.

Some of the genes that have been linked to alcoholism include:

  • DRD2: A gene that is linked to the dopamine receptor. This gene has been linked to a number of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, alcoholism, and addiction.
  • ADH1C: This gene is responsible for the production of alcohol dehydrogenase. This is an enzyme that helps to metabolize alcohol.

While these genes have been linked to alcoholism, it is important to note that they are not the only genes that contribute to alcoholism. There are likely many other genes that play a role in alcoholism.

Why Heredity Matters in Alcoholism

It is safe to say that heredity can’t explain all the factors that led you to drink. However, understanding your DNA may help you tap into some clues as to why you are addicted to alcohol. After all, the more you know about your condition, the more empowered you become to combat it.

Your therapist can help you understand why it is your dad drank, and his dad drank, and his dad drank, and so on. Chances are it wasn’t just hereditary. Regardless, it is crucial to find out what the cause is so that you can break the vicious cycle of addiction in your family.

Is Alcoholism Hereditary? Learn More at Right Step Houston

At Right Step Houston, our goal is to help you learn more about your addiction so that you can get on the road to recovery. We offer comprehensive treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Is alcoholism hereditary? Find out more by contacting us at 1.844.768.0169.

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