Knowing your family’s medical history – including any history of alcoholism – is important. It allows you to be proactive and know what conditions you may be more prone to. However, just because alcoholism runs in your family does not necessarily mean that you will develop it. At the same time, even if your family doesn’t have a history of alcoholism this is not a guarantee that it won’t affect you.
There is no single cause of alcoholism; it evolves from combinations of factors including genetics, environment, and social influences. Having parents or grandparents who struggled with alcoholism can increase your risk, however. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), research has shown that “children of alcoholics are about four times more likely than the general population to develop alcohol problems.”
Reducing your Risk of Alcoholism
There are steps that you can take to protect your health and reduce your risk of developing alcoholism:
- Know your family history. If you’re unsure, ask your parents or relatives about any history of alcoholism or alcohol use disorders.
- Know yourself. Do you have a hard time limiting yourself when you drink? Avoid putting yourself in situations where heavy drinking occurs. Take steps to hold yourself more accountable and get involved in activities that do not involve alcohol.
- Choose your friends wisely. Spend time with people who don’t make you feel pressured to drink and who have other interests besides drinking.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your drinking or your risk for alcoholism. They can help you to find the proper resources and support.
- Seek treatment if your alcohol use has become problematic. Addressing the problem before it becomes more severe can boost your recovery efforts. It’s never too soon to get help.
Family history is only one part of the equation when it comes to alcoholism. Know your risk factors and protective factors, and if you think you may need help, contact Above It All to learn more about the treatment programs available to support your recovery.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIDA), Family History. Accessed April 19, 2016.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIDA), Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorder. Accessed April 2, 2016.
- American Alcohol Centers, Is Alcoholism Hereditary or Genetic? Accessed April 9, 2016.
- The Recovery Village, Why Alcoholism Runs in Families. Accessed April 5, 2016.
- Healthfinder.gov, Alcohol Abuse. Accessed April 17, 2016.