My Parents Were Alcoholics. Does That Mean I’ll Become One?

It is widely accepted that there is a genetic component to addiction. If your parents struggled with an alcohol use disorder, you may worry that the same thing will happen to you. Not only is there a genetic link, but you likely grew up in an environment that’s conducive to substance abuse later in life.

However, the good news is that there is no single gene that guarantees that a person will develop an addiction. A family history of alcoholism is a significant risk factor but it’s just one of many factors. If you’re aware of your heightened risk, you take care of your mental health, and you reduce the risk factors that are within your control, you can break the cycle. You should contact our Asheville rehabilitation experts today.

Risk Factors for Alcoholism

Substance addiction is complex. A number of factors contribute to the development of an alcohol use disorder. These include genetics, environment, brain chemistry, personality, and trauma. Some of the commonly accepted risk factors for alcoholism are:

  • Heavy, consistent alcohol use
  • A family history of alcoholism
  • Early age of first use
  • Depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses
  • Past traumatic experiences
  • Spending time with regular drinkers

It is estimated that your family history accounts for between 45 percent and 65 percent of your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. However, this doesn’t mean your future has been decided for you. It’s possible that you may find it harder to resist alcohol than some people and you may have to be more careful around alcohol, but addiction isn’t inevitable.

In addition to the genetic component, there are also environmental factors associated with having parents who are addicted to alcohol. Some parents who are alcoholics are neglectful or mentally or physically abusive. If you developed low self-esteem or resentment as a child, you may drink a lot as a teen and adult to cope with those feelings.

Alternatively, you may have been forced to grow up quickly and keep the household functioning. If so, you may be totally against alcohol use. Many children of addicts fall somewhere in between.

It is important to note that problematic drinking may be common in a family not only because of genes but because everyone is exposed to the same conditions such as abuse or trauma. There’s really no way to predict how nature and nurture will interplay in an individual. The key thing to remember is that you should seek professional help if you think you have a problem with alcohol use. There are also risk factors that are within your control.

Managing Your Risk Factors for Alcoholism

One of the best things you can do is to take care of your mental health. Mental illness and addiction are closely linked. If you have an undiagnosed or untreated mental health problem, you are more likely to engage in unhealthy drinking habits. If you get the treatment you need, you’ll be better able to manage your drinking. Reducing or completely cutting out alcohol consumption is also likely to bring relief from symptoms of mental illness.

Even if you don’t have a mental illness, you can reduce the risk that you’ll develop an alcohol use disorder. For example, if you have been drinking regularly or drinking heavily, you should consider reducing your usage. If you frequently hang out with people who drink, you may want to find a new social circle.

If you grew up with alcoholic parents and you never got therapy, doing so can help to prevent you from developing unhealthy drinking practices. Even if your parenst tried not to let their drinking affect you or you have a good relationship with them now, there are likely to be unresolved issues. Parents who are struggling with alcoholism simply can’t create an ideal environment for a child. Children whose parents were alcoholics are at greater risk for:

  • Substance abuse
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Violence and physical abuse
  • Poor school performance
  • Mental illness
  • Unemployment in adulthood

Getting treatment can help you to overcome these issues and live a happier, healthier life.

Contact Asheville Recovery Center Today!

Being raised by alcoholic parents can lead to alcohol use disorders or addiction. However, it’s not automatic that you will engage in problematic drinking. If your drinking is indeed causing problems in your life, seek assistance from a treatment professional. You can take control of your life and break the cycle of addiction. Recovery is difficult but sobriety is possible. At Asheville Recovery Center, we’ll offer you a personalized course of treatment to help you achieve long-term sobriety. Contact us today!

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