Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Alcoholism Genetic?

I'm not sure I buy the whole genetics thing. I think it may play a part but I think the family environment is much more important.

Not that this is statistically relevant but let's say we look at my husband’s and my family.

I have 3 sisters. 2 are half sisters. My mother’s side is primarily alcoholic. If you go with the genetics theory, my one half sister should definitely be an alcoholic because of my mom’s side of the family and her dad (my step dad).

My "full" sister and I should have a high probability of being alcoholic because of my mom’s side of the family.

My other half sister should have a high probability because of her own mother's alcoholism.

But none of the four of us are alcoholics. None of us are addicted to drugs or ever even tried hard drugs to my knowledge.

Then look at my husband’s side. Both he and his younger brother are alcoholics. (The older brother is in a mental institution). Nearly everyone in their family on both sides is an alcoholic.

Is it genetics or is it the way the family behaves? Perhaps a little of both?

I have often said if I had grown up on my husband’s family I would be an alcoholic myself. Even being around my father-in-law for 5-minutes makes me want to have a drink!

My father-in-law is a difficult person to be around. He is always quizzing you on everything. In our case, mostly our finances.

He walks around our house and says, Is that new? No, we've had that for years. He asks about 7 more things.

When he interacts with my son, he is always telling him how he could do everything better.

He tells me where I could go grocery shopping to save more money. He tells me about things that I obviously already know – repeatedly.

After a laid back day with my dad about a month ago, my husband commented on how much he likes my dad. He's so easy to be around.

I relay the compliment to my dad. I tell him we could never have that same sort of day with my father-in-law. If we were to play basketball, it would not be just about enjoying the game. Every time my husband or my son missed a basket, he would have criticized them or made a joke. He would be telling them how they could play better.

There is never any rest or enjoyment. It is always about money and business and one-upping someone.

That's no way to live.

And that's my sober father in law.

My husband’s childhood is his story to tell. But whenever I think about it, my heart feels like it will explode with anger. It was hardly a childhood. I will leave it at that.

I believe most problems have a root to them. You can pretend that they sprung from no where, but when you have a child you plant a seed, water it and help it to grow.

You can forget to water the seed and instead a weed will grow up strong and stubborn in its place.

If you wait too long, the seed will never be rehabilitated and only the weed will remain.

But the weed is still your responsibility. Getting mad that a weed sprung up in the plants place makes no sense. You caused that to happen by your own neglect and abuse.

Pluck out the weed and see if the plant doesn't come back.

A weed can grow in almost any environment.

When you water your children and nourish them, they grow up into glorious, flowering plants, or perhaps a tall and steady tree.

They may falter, but ultimately they come back into the glorious creations that God intended.

1 comment:

  1. My personal opinion is that there is a genetic component and there is a environmental component. Sometimes when I watch alcoholics recover and turn to sugar, I wonder if there is a chemical component. I don't know. I think that leaning toward being OCD in general can take many forms. Some turn to alcohol, work, sex, food, drugs, cleaning, exercise, gambling. And I do think that tendency to be OCD is genetic. I've watched it take different forms in my family. It is a hard one to figure out. Drug users can take one look at another user and somehow know what their "thing" is. Just my thoughts. I've wondered about these things for a while myself.