Alcoholism is one of the long-standing problems in the country today.
Take a look at the statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). According to it:
- About 17% of people increased their lifetime risk of injury due to alcohol.
- One in six people who drink boost their odds of injury on a single occasion.
- In 2016, more than 20% of Australians 14 years old and above have been a victim of an alcohol-related incident.
- One in seven, meanwhile, drank over 10 different types of drinks at least once within a year.
Despite being common, this issue remains difficult to understand. For example, why do some become more susceptible to alcoholism than the others?
Genes May Be Playing a Part
For the longest time, society believed the environment is the reason for alcohol use disorder. Now, scientists are looking into genes.
A 2019 study in Nature Communications identified at least two gene variants. Called SIX3 and DRD2, these may need to be present for someone to develop alcoholism.
Research that appeared over a decade before identified other gene variants. This time, they appeared in the regions of the brain.
Some research revealed people with alcoholism tend to have problems with dopamine. It’s a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure and rewards.
It implies that a person addicted to alcohol may feel the need to drink more to experience satisfaction from the behaviour.
These dopamine imbalances may be due to one of the genes called DRD2. The previous studies that associate this variant with dopamine and alcoholism, though, were inconsistent.
In this 2007 study, the team highlighted how the surrounding genes may also have influence. One of these is ANKK1.
In 2004, the University of Illinois researchers discovered that a protein called CREB may increase one’s predisposition to alcoholism.
Also known as cyclic AMP responsive element binding protein, it controls learning and brain development.
This may explain why this addiction can run in families, as well as why those with alcoholism are also prone to anxiety and depression.
It’s Not Absolute
A person’s body has thousands of genes. Note too that factors such as ageing and lifestyle can affect how they express themselves or perform their functions.
As more scientists explore the genetics of alcoholism, people can expect to encounter plenty of other biomarkers.
If there’s some glimmer of hope, it’s the fact having these genes is not absolute. Just because you possess them doesn’t transform you into an alcoholic.
They only suggest that you may be prone to it, especially once you start drinking.
They also imply that with the right help, you may learn to manage your behaviour. This way, you can treat your addiction before it gets worse.
Professionals can help you combat it whether you have the gene variants or not. What’s more important is to get help as soon as you can.