According to a recent study, scientists and geneticists have located a gene in our bodies which makes some of us more at risk of alcohol addiction and dependency. According to a set of studies carried out on mice and 9,000 people across the country, a single gene called ‘neurofibromatosis type 1’ (Nf1) acts as the on-off switch for the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA calms the central nervous system and makes us less anxious or uptight, and previous studies have already verified that GABA is key in determining whether we are able to drink recreationally without becoming addicted, or not.
So what does this all mean for us? How do these experiments and studies affect the way we think about alcohol addiction?
The danger is that we will consider alcoholism to be a purely genetic disorder or a disease over which we have no control. This is, unfortunately, not true. Whilst alcohol addiction is clearly influenced by genetics, our own behaviour towards drink certainly also plays a major part, and we must continue to be vigilant of our actions. If we actively choose to drink more alcohol more regularly, we must remain aware that we put ourselves at risk of alcohol dependency. For those of us who need it, private alcohol addiction rehab is crucial to recovery.
However, this study also demonstrates that it is not entirely the patients’ fault. Many people become addicted to alcohol through binge drinking, or drinking too much recreationally with friends, and can become confused as to why they are now being referred to an alcohol addiction rehab and their friends are not. Our genetics do play their part.
The main point to take away from these new studies is that everyone is vulnerable from alcohol addiction. Some people are genetically less at risk than others, but if we see that no-one in our immediate family suffers from alcoholism, that in turn can lead to lower cautiousness. At the end of the day, despite the sparkling glint of a cool beer or the well-rounded taste of French red wine, alcohol is a drug.
If you are concerned about your level of drinking, or if you worry that a loved one is dependent on alcohol, contact us now on 0800 088 6686 to find out how we can help you. We are an advisory service aimed at getting our patients in contact with the best clinics and rehabilitation centres near to them.