Could Family History of Mild Alcohol Use Put You at Risk?

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Dale


    May 25th, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    While it can be hard to fight those natural genetic tendencies, If someone else in your family has suffered from alcoholism then why would you even want to start down that path and take that chance that you could end up the very same way? Alcohol abuse not only destroys you but can pretty much destroy the family too. My advice would be that unless this is something that you know you can either live with or without, don’t even start.

  • jimmy


    May 25th, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    so how does this work?if I start drinking then how would that be a genetic thing and would go on to my child? am I getting mutated due to the drinking?!

  • Kayla


    May 26th, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    Personally I feel like this is bailing out on your own responsibility. If you go around blaming others for your issues then you are never going to get them resolved, right? You are just constantly putting the focus and the blame on someone else when in reality you are the one who is responsible. I have a hard time with the blame game, always wanting to make it the fault of someone else. Well there comes a time when you ahve to take responsibility for your own actions and man, or woman, up. Put your big kid pants on and do the things in life that you know are right and quit pointing the finger at everyone else.

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