Risk Of Becoming An Alcoholic Affected By Personality And Parents' Alcoholism

By robin_himself · Jun 28, 2006 · ·
  1. robin_himself
    Personality and parental alcoholism interact to influence an individual's risk of becoming an alcoholic

    * New findings show that interaction between a personality trait called "novelty seeking" and parental alcoholism can both increase risk of, and protect against, developing individual alcoholism.
    * High novelty seeking is a strong risk factor for alcoholism among children of alcoholics (COAs).
    * Low novelty seeking appears to protect against the risk of developing alcoholism among COAs.

    "Disinhibitory personality traits" refer to risk-taking, exploratory, thrill-seeking and sometimes impulsive personality characteristics. Children, especially boys, who exhibit these characteristics have a high likelihood of becoming alcoholics as adults. Recent findings indicate that this risk is further enhanced if these children have an alcoholic parent.

    Results are published in the July issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

    "Novelty seeking is not in and of itself a dangerous thing," said Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine. "Lance Armstrong is a good example of somebody with high novelty seeking. He was seriously injured in a bike accident in high school. Somebody more risk averse or less enamored of the thrill of speed probably would have focused on running or swimming after that. But obviously, he is someone who has channeled these tendencies in non-destructive ways." Grucza is the study's corresponding author.

    "Although familial alcoholism has long been known to increase the risk of alcoholism in offspring, the risk is not 100 percent," added Kevin Conway, associate director of the Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "This indicates that family history by itself is only one of many variables in the 'equation' predicting alcoholism. Some variables increase the probability of alcoholism in offspring, such as exposure to heavy drinking, or antisocial behavior in parents or offspring, whereas others decrease this risk, such as warm parent-child relationships and certain forms of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene. This study suggests that an individual's personality influences how he or she responds to familial liability to alcoholism."

    Researchers analyzed data gathered as part of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism - a multi-site family study - from 1,111 adult siblings of patients seeking treatment for alcoholism. Researchers also established diagnoses of alcohol dependence and personality scores of novelty seeking for the patients' parents.

    "Our key finding is the interaction between novelty seeking and parental alcoholism," said Grucza. "Although high novelty seeking is a risk factor by itself, it is a much more important risk factor for individuals with an alcoholic parent. High novelty seeking seems to amplify the risk associated with being from an alcoholic family, and vice versa: having a parent with alcoholism amplifies the risk associated with high novelty seeking."

    However, he added, this interaction works both ways. "While high novelty seeking amplifies the risk associated with parental alcoholism, low novelty seeking may diminish it," he said. "People with an alcoholic parent who are low in novelty seeking may be at lower risk than normally expected."

    Grucza added that he and his colleagues were surprised by the dual direction of the relationship between novelty seeking and parental alcoholism and the influence this might have on an individual developing alcoholism him or herself.

    "Because alcoholism and novelty seeking run in families, and because novelty seeking is a risk factor for alcoholism, it has generally been assumed that novelty seeking is simply a risk factor that runs in families," he said. "What we found was more complicated familial patterns than initially expected."

    Conway agrees. "Although the notion of an 'addictive personality' has been largely rejected," he said, "it remains fruitful to identify personality traits that predict addiction to substances, as identification of certain maladaptive personality traits may inform etiology, prevention and intervention."

    "Some rethinking of the relation between personality and addiction may be in order," added Grucza. "Rather than thinking about an 'addictive personality,' it is important to think about how personality might influence a person's response to other genetic and environmental risk factors. For example, in a family with parental alcoholism, not all children are at equal levels of risk … kids with high novelty seeking may be at much greater risk, and kids with low novelty seeking may not be at as high of a risk as originally thought."


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  1. Tauisyourking
    Well, people unpresented to alchahol would drink themselves some death, because they don't know their limits, when people presented to it at least knows other people's limits to base their own limits on.
  2. detoxin momma
    the statement about people dying from alcohol because they don't know their limits couldn't be farther from the truth.

    people die from alcohol everyday.and a great deal of them are from long time users,that know their limits,but just don't care to stop.
    people die from alcohol because they either have alcohol poisoning,or they use it for so long that their organs shut down.

    my stepfather died at 37 from cirrhosis of the liver.and he knew he was going to die,just didn't care.
    he swelled up like a pregnant lady.shit blood,puked blood,turned yellow,and didn't care.

    he knew his limits,just didn't care.

    risk of becoming an alcoholic is all in the hands of the user.if you don't want to become an alcoholic just have a drink on occasions.and if you can't manage that then don't drink at all.

    seems pretty simple.

    can't always blame genetics.my mother is a hard core alcoholic,always has been.
    my father used to be.quit cold turkey and never looked back when I was 8 years old,almost 25 years ago.
    so that's both my biological parents that were or are alcoholics.and guess what,i hate to drink.
    have a drink on rare occasions like a party,or new years eve,something like that.

    its all on us.we choose what we put to our mouths.
  3. Co-morbid Lability
    hate to say this, but a personality can NEVER change. you are born with those traits. You work on character defects. so your entire thread is worthless
  4. Nosferatus
    ^^It's fine if the twelve steps and disease theory worked for you, that doesn't mean that all other theories about addiction are worthless or wrong.
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