Part of what gets lost when we focus on genetic causes of alcohol use disorder is the powerful effect behavior can have on the expression of genes.
This study at Rutgers University showed that alcohol changes the expression of certain genes in ways that make people want to drink more and find it more difficult to stop.
Here’s the TL;DR on what we learned (read the full article for more details!):
Binge drinkers don’t get as much help as they need from genes intended to control their stress response system and biological clock.
This alternation affects the children of heavy drinkers, too, such that they are more likely to abuse alcohol if they consume it.
This made a lot of sense to us. Binge drinking is problematic for a number of health reasons; it builds up a desire to get drunk, not just tipsy; and it over time increases your tolerance for alcohol, which of course encourages even heavier drinking.
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