Alcoholism, also known as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is a broad term which the use of alcohol results in psychological or physical problems with the user. The condition has been present for centuries documented as far back as the 1647 when Greek monk Agapios documented alcohol misuse and effects. Alcohol itself has been around since at least 7000 BC, seemingly originating in Chinese culture with the production of wine as part of their cultural heritage. With this long term history of the availability of alcohol combined with the more recent medical and scientific study of its effects only recently being advanced, one can legitimately ask the question; has alcoholism become a genetic disorder?
Alcoholism can be Overcome
The question doesn’t suggest that there is no possible escape from the end result of alcoholism. People who are born with other genetic diseases today aren’t entirely resigned to the possibility of a disability they cannot overcome.
If someone is born color blind, it doesn’t mean they have an impossible time of living a normal life, they simply have to accept that they have to take certain precautions concerning the information of color in their lives, such as discerning the difference between when a traffic light is green or red. These aren’t insurmountable problems. The scientific and medical community at this point has come to the conclusion that about half of alcoholics are actually genetically predisposed to be alcoholics. What this means is that their risk factor for developing alcoholism is higher than someone who isn’t of the same genetic situation.
Blaming genetics doesn’t mean the actions of the individual can be completely forgiven. If the person with color blindness didn’t learn how to discern the traffic light differences and caused a car accident, it is still within their responsibility since many people who have a similar condition have learned to drive safely and properly read traffic light meanings outside of color differentials. The same goes for genetic factors that play into alcoholism. However, much of that requires the individual to even know this is a genetic condition they posses and unlike color blindness, it’s not so easy to detect or even test for. Many times, someone will not know they may be genetically at risk to alcoholism until they’ve already developed a problem or even gotten to the point of dependency, where they simply can’t function in normal day to day activities without drinking.
Society’s education on alcohol, like most fields, is lacking and typically far behind where the actual studies in medical and scientific fields are. The misconceptions about the disease of AUD in the public discourse can lead to ridicule or isolation of a person affected with no path to follow to deal with their problem. No one should have to deal with the problem alone, especially if it is condition brought on by genetic predisposition.