This article reviews
recent research on the importance of genetic influences on alcohol
abuse and dependence. The ultimate goal of those studies was to
identify genetically influenced characteristics, or phenotypes, that
affect alcoholism risk. This might then facilitate the search for
social and environmental influences that are more directly useful in
prevention and treatment.
The contribution of genetic influences in alcoholism is supported
by the 3- to 4-fold higher prevalence of this disorder in first-degree
relatives of alcoholics, a rate that increases another 2-fold in
identical twins of alcoholics.1- 4 Adoption-type studies
reveal that the increased risk remains strong for children of
alcoholics adopted and raised by nonalcoholics.5,6
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