For a long time many experts have been of the opinion that alcoholism is part genetics. Others have scoffed at this notion, but it now appears as though scientists have actually discovered that it may be true. They have identified key DNA that appears to make some people more susceptible to alcoholism than others.
Does Alcoholism Run in Families?
One thing that has been clear for a long time is the fact that many alcoholic parents see their children following in their footsteps. Opinion on this varied over the years, from those who believed it was genetic to others who felt it was a behavioural issue and that the children became alcoholics because it was what they knew and what they had been subjected to their whole lives. However, with this new research, it would seem as though there is a specific set of genes that may cause a person to become dependent on alcohol.
Scientists in Texas in the United States used brain tissue donated from alcoholics and compared it with similar brain tissue taken from non-alcoholics and found there was a set of genes present in the alcoholics that was missing from non-alcoholics. The scientists identified this set of genes as responsible for causing the alcohol addiction.
“This provides the most comprehensive picture to date of the gene sets that drive alcohol dependence. We now have a much clearer picture of where specific traits related to alcohol dependence overlap with specific expressions in genetic code,” said Dr Adron Harris of the Texas University.
Discovery Could Lead to New Treatments
This is encouraging news for those suffering alcohol dependency as it could lead the way to revolutionary new treatments. It could also provide doctors with a method for screening for alcoholism. An old adage says that ‘prevention is better than cure’, which is why this could be a huge development in ensuring that more people do not end up suffering with an addiction to alcohol.
The technique used for this research is known as bioinformatics and it is the first time it has been used by scientists to help identify specific genes as relating to alcohol dependency. Another scientist from Texas University, Dr Sean Farris, said of the research, “We hope our model can serve as a type of Wikipedia of alcohol dependence helping to break down the complexities of alcohol dependence and becoming a reference for future research into drug therapies.”
The Effect of Alcoholism on the NHS
Alcohol dependency is estimated to cost the country about £6 billion every year, so helping to prevent people becoming dependent on it would be beneficial to all. Alcohol can be attributed to a number of cancers, liver disease and is a cause of high blood pressure as well, which itself can lead to heart disease and strokes; all of this ultimately costs the NHS a lot of money.
At the moment, around 600,000 English adults who are considered mild alcoholics are being given Nalmefene, a drug that can help reduce alcohol cravings. However, this new research should provide research scientists with more information that could help with the development of new drugs and treatments for alcoholics.
In the meantime, there is help for those suffering from alcohol dependency. They can get the treatment they so desperately need. We are here to offer help in terms of finding suitable treatment or rehab options. At Addiction Helper, we offer free confidential advice to those suffering with addiction. Call us today – our experts are ready and waiting to help. Participate in addiction discussion events to show your support or position.
Source: Daily Mail
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