Genetic link to alcoholism highlighted

  • Deborah Condon

A new campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the genetic link associated with alcohol dependence.

Everyone has the potential to become dependent on alcohol, however some people are more predisposed to become addicts than others. In fact, up to 60% of a person's risk factors come from genetics.

Research indicates that a person is eight times more likely to develop a drug or alcohol addiction if their parent had such an addiction.

As part of the Reduce Your Alcohol Use campaign, 800 people over the age of 30, who consume alcohol, were surveyed. The results revealed that almost two in three people believe that alcoholism has a genetic component that runs in families.

Over 40% of those surveyed had a family history of alcohol problems and just over 30% said that they do not drink, or only drink moderate amounts, due to the way in which some family members consume alcohol.

According to Dr Garrett McGovern, a GP who specialises in substance abuse, alcohol dependence is characterised by ‘compulsive alcohol seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to themselves and those around them'.

"Our research found that of those who sought professional help for their drinking, 47% had a history of alcohol dependence in their family. Being aware of your alcohol intake and reducing if you need to will help ensure history does not repeat itself. Speak to your healthcare professional if you or a family member is engaging in harmful drinking," he advised.

The survey also found that almost half of people consume alcohol at least twice a week, while almost one in three males consume at least seven drinks during any one typical session.

The awareness campaign is sponsored by Lundbeck Ireland.


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