No matter where you stand on whether or not it is a choice or a disease, alcoholism is a serious issue that affects over 27 million people in America alone. There is substantial evidence of the heritability of alcoholism with some studies claiming that an individual is 400% more likely to become an alcoholic if their parents suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder. Like other issues with substance abuse, alcoholism is often discredited by people as a choice.
It is, in fact, hard to argue that anyone would have a genetic predisposition to take that first drink or to try that first drug, and this would support the argument of choice. However, the waters become clouded when discussing the issue of then being able to put the bottle down. It seems that the genetic correlation argument carries a lot more weight when it comes time for you to quit drinking. Actually, there are quite a few biological issues when you are trying to quit.
The over-consumption of alcohol definitely takes its toll on your body. You may have heard of the shakes and other symptoms of withdrawal, but there are also conditions such as vitamin deficiency alcoholism, which affects the way that your body absorbs various vitamins and nutrients. It turns out that drinking too much can cause your body to be unable to process specific vitamins.
There is actually a whole slew of problems that you can endure due to alcohol pathophysiology. Some might say that this can be traced back to a person’s genetics and that you process alcohol differently based on your family tree. There are definitely biological effects that minimize your ability to make a choice to walk away from drinking once you become an alcoholic. Not to mention that choosing to quit drinking altogether as an alcoholic could actually be fatal.
It is possible that the detoxification process without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous and could even kill you. This is another reason why alcoholism seems less like a choice and more like a disease. However, the counter-argument remains that alcoholics are responsible for putting themselves into this state of poor health. This seems to be a fair argument, but it does not really preclude the idea that the disorder is, in fact, hereditable.
The overall psychopharmacological effects of a drug are often overlooked when encouraging an addict to quit their substance abuse. It is easy as an outsider for you to say that an alcoholic should just stop making bad choices. This approach toward alcoholism lacks an understanding of the chemical components of this dependency.
So is alcoholism an inherited disease? Many studies seem to provide strong evidence to support this conclusion. Does this alleviate all responsibility of the addict? Probably not, however, having a greater understanding of these issues can help both sides. Those who are more likely to become an addict based on genetics can gain awareness from these studies, whereas others can gain empathy for their struggle.