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Alcoholism: Heredity Or Environment? Essay

1116 words - 4 pages

Imagine you are at a family wedding reception where there is alcohol being served. As the night progresses you notice your Uncle Bob frequenting the bar in the corner of the room for nearly one drink after another. He is reaching his limit for liquor he can handle, and you notice him acting increasingly disoriented, obnoxious, and tipsy. The rest of your family watches him as he virtually makes a fool out of himself and comments about him fill the room. "He has always been drinking way too much since his days in the frat house at the university," states one relative. "He is just like his father," comments another. Such a story sparks a debate as to the foundation of alcoholism. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines alcoholism as continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks. What causes a person to be an alcoholic is a heated debate. Some argue that the disease is hereditary, while others advocate that alcoholism is due to a person's environment. Alcoholism a generally environmental disease, which is fueled by a person's genetic makeup, requires federal funding to determine the best way to prevent and cure the disease. It is often stated that children act as their parents act, in a "monkey see, monkey do" form of replicating behavior. If a child observes the alcoholic tendencies of a parent, does that put him at more of a risk to develop the disease himself? Theodore Jacob and Sheri Johnson, authors of Parenting Influences on the Development of Alcohol Abuse and Dependence believe this to be true. "It is now well established that the family environment, and particularly parenting effects, strongly influence a child's risk of alcohol abuse and dependence." (Jacob & Johnson 204) If this proves true, it could be a step forward as to where research should begin to fight alcoholism. Growing up, if a child lives in a household where alcohol is abused, he begins an uphill battle to combat the problem in their own lives. "Children's alcohol expectancies reflect recognition of alcohol-related norms and a cognizance of parental drinking patterns by a very early age." (Jacob & Johnson 204) The earlier an individual has alcohol introduced into his environment, the sooner he may begin to abuse and become dependent on the substance. Additionally, "the affect of low social status is to increase the risk of alcohol abuse for all people." (Steen 210) There are undoubtedly numerous factors that may influence a person to become an alcoholic, and it must be kept in mind that under the right circumstances everyone is prone to addiction. Although environmental factors are a key issue for alcoholism, genetics are also a factor of the disease. Researchers often agree that the link between certain chromosomes and alcoholism are present in the brain. "Researchers describe the areas on the chromosomes as "hot spots" because they probably contain hundreds of different genes that contribute to...

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