People with a family history of alcoholism are at a higher risk of alcohol abuse. However, a new study conducted by Anna HV Söderpalm Gordh, assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg, suggests that even those with a positive family history of type 1 alcoholism, characterized by a later onset of a milder course, can be at risk for alcohol abuse.
“More than 30 years ago, researchers began to classify alcoholics into Type I and Type II, defining Type II alcoholism as the form with a strong genetic risk,” explained Harriet de Wit, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at The University of Chicago. “Since then, few studies have directly addressed the possibility that Type I alcoholics might also carry a genetic risk. This study is unique in that it uses an alcohol challenge procedure among individuals with a family history of Type I alcoholism, but no alcohol problems themselves.”
“The type I alcoholics make up a much more common group than Type II,” added Söderpalm Gordh, “which is very uncommon and rare.” The researchers assessed the moods of 51 men and women who were given either a placebo or three alcoholic drinks.
“Participants with a family member with Type I alcoholism reported more stimulant-like effects after the alcohol, compared to the FHN participants,” said de Wit. “This suggests that even children of Type I alcoholics may inherit some characteristic that changes how they feel after alcohol which may, in turn, affect their risk for alcohol abuse.”
“These findings suggest that even offspring of children with Type I alcoholism, which was previously thought to be less genetically determined, may be at risk,” said de Wit. “These individuals should monitor their alcohol consumption carefully, and consult a professional if their alcohol use begins to interfere with normal daily functions, if they have difficulty stopping, or if they frequently consume more than they intended.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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