Alcoholism: Nature vs Nurture

Topics: Alcoholism, Alcohol, Alcoholic beverage Pages: 6 (2126 words) Published: April 9, 2012
Alcoholism: Nature Versus Nurture
For years people have argued that alcoholism is a choice and not a learned or inherited disease. These people will normally agree that yes, children are in fact influenced by family, but purely of a social nature, and that this disease is actually caused by poor economic status, poor social upbringings, or merely by imitating the behaviors of those who raised them. However, research has proven that in a great deal of cases there is in fact enormous basis for alcoholism being a genetic or inherited disease. While genetics cannot predict alcoholics very well, research can show that one can be born to be an alcoholic; the action and reaction taken in spite of or because of this gene however determines the outcome. When paired with a poor social upbringing it can prove to be quite difficult for one to overcome the influences that are trying to determine their lifestyle choices. As with everything in our lives alcoholism is a product of Nature versus Nurture, completely made up by both.

In “The Behavioral Genetics of Alcoholism” Matt McGue explains some of the people who are at a higher risk for alcoholism. “People who were reared in an environment where drinking was tolerated and encouraged, people suffering from a mental illness and people who are biologically related to an alcoholic” (McGue, 109). At times alcohol abuse appears to be uncontrollable and most often unexpected, no one believes they will someday fall victim to this disease, let alone will they allow their child, grandchild, or other beloved family member to do so. However most people resemble the characteristics of those who reared them and most often this is done completely subconsciously. When one of both parents drink on a regular basis this becomes the norm in the eyes of the children. If drinking is consistently done within the boundaries that one is confined to and if parents condone these poor habits it is most likely that these children will begin to believe the same.. It is used as a reward McGue states “heritability estimates suggest that approximately 50-60% of the variability in alcoholism liability is associated with genetic factors,” (McGue, 109). With over half of the victims being relatives of alcoholics it is hard to argue the heritability factor.

There is evidence that also suggest that even when raised in a non-drinking environment while still have the genetics of an alcoholic parent, alcoholism is still greatly prevalent. McGue claims with the help of an adoption study that “studies have shown that the reared-away (or adopted) sons of male alcoholics have higher rates of alcoholism than the reared-away sons of nonalcoholics.” (McGue, 109) Therefore, if two children were adopted into the same family, one the biological child of an alcoholic and one not, although raised exactly the same with the same morals and ethics the child born to the alcoholic is much more likely to become an alcoholic himself. Genetics alone can cause certain behaviors in people.   If a child grows up in an environment where neither of the parents are alcoholics but the child carries the gene to become one, the child may have a higher chance of becoming an alcoholic as an adult due to genetic factors.   However, because the child is not exposed to alcohol use regularly they may never exhibit alcoholic tendencies.   A person may have an even greater risk if they have genetic factors, and they are brought up in an environment where there is a lot of alcohol use.

Furthermore, if a child is raised in a family that condones drinking they are more likely to become alcoholics. In Jay Matthew’s article, “A Feverish Reaction to Teenage Drinking,” he explains the harsh reality of teenage drinking and just how often this occurs today in our socity by quoting Brian O’Rourke who states, “40% of early teen drinkers become alcoholics.” (Matthews) Parents who are allowing their children and most often their friends, to drink underage are...
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