Risk factors, genetics tied to alcoholic tendencies


Doctor Marvin Seppala says genetics is the number one risk factor for addiction.

"Over 50 percent of the likelihood that a person is going to end up with addiction has to do with their genetic history," said Seppala.

If your mom or dad is an alcoholic, your risk skyrockets.

"At least six times more likely than the general population," said Seppala.

Then there's age. Studies show people who start drinking before 15 are five times more likely to become addicted than those who begin drinking after they turn 21.

Another risk factor is tolerance, especially when people first use alcohol.

"It's the people that can really tolerate the alcohol that have the genetic predisposition and end up at higher risk," said Seppala.

There are also protective genes that exist mostly in Japanese, Chinese and Korean people who get flushed when they drink.

"And that actually will prevent alcohol use, because they just don't like how it feels," said Seppala.

Variations in genes contribute to a person's overall level of risk or resistance.

There are more than 300 genes associated with alcoholism. Variations in those genes contribute to a person's overall level of risk or resistance. Experts urge people to remember that DNA is not solely your destiny when human behavior is involved.

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