IS ALCOHOLISM GENETIC OR LEARNED

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Is Alcoholism Genetic or Learned?

Psychiatric geneticists John I. Nurnberger, Jr., and Laura Jean Bierut suggest that alcoholism does not have a single cause—including genetic—but that genes do play an important role “by affecting processes in the body and brain that interact with one another and with an individual’s life experiences to produce protection or susceptibility”. They also report that fewer than a dozen alcoholism-related genes have been identified, but that more likely await discovery. At least one genetic test exists for an allele that is correlated to alcoholism and opiate addiction.

Human dopamine receptor genes have a detectable variation referred to as the DRD2 TaqI polymorphism. Those who possess the A1 allele (variation) of this polymorphism have a small but significant tendency towards addiction to opiates and endorphin-releasing drugs like alcohol. Although this allele is slightly more common in alcoholics and opiate addicts, it is not by itself an adequate predictor of alcoholism, and some researchers argue that evidence for DRD2 is contradictory.

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IS ALCOHOLISM GENETIC OR LEARNED

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References:
Nurnberger, Jr., John I., and Bierut, Laura Jean. “Seeking the Connections: Alcoholism and our Genes.” Scientific American, April 2007, Vol. 296, Issue 4.
New York Daily News (William Sherman) Test targets addiction gene[permanent dead link] 11 February 2006
Berggren U, Fahlke C, Aronsson E, Karanti A, Eriksson M, Blennow K, Thelle D, Zetterberg H, Balldin J (September 2006). “The taqI DRD2 A1 allele is associated with alcohol-dependence although its effect size is small” (Free full text). Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire). 41 (5): 479–85. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agl043. ISSN 0735-0414. PMID 16751215.

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