Unfortunately, today’s society has brainwashed many people into believing that almost everything that could be wrong with a person has a genetic basis. So much research has been conducted to try and prove that alcoholism is an inherited disease. However, most do not consider environmental conditions as equally, if not more relevant, factors when looking at families with histories of alcohol abuse. Although genetics and the environment both affect the way people live, people still have the choice to fend for themselves and are not bound to fulfill a destiny of becoming an alcoholic. Granted, there is specific genetic linkage to diseases such as Huntington’s and Tay-Sach’s, but for people to think that alcoholism is a genetically transmitted disease is pure nonsense.
Rather than listen to the breaking genetic discoveries broadcasted nightly on the news and believe all of it, one should find that researching such things would lead anyone to discover that most genetic discoveries are experiments without enough results to make a sufficient find and are usually quickly proven false yet otherwise unjustifiable. Just as with the case of alcoholism where scientists have discovered up to four genes of DNA that are said to determine the way people react after consuming alcohol. According to Medline Plus, “There is no known cause of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. Research suggests that certain genes may increase the risk of alcoholism, but which genes and how they work are not known” (Alcoholism). This may be true but the fact that someone has a higher tendency of feeling ill after drinking certainly does not rule out his/her probability of becoming an alcoholic. Furthermore, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, otherwise known as NIAA, in reference to the two most famous and most inclusive twin studies mentions just how sure scientists are about their findings by saying “The investigators responsible for both linkage studies have deliberately described their findings as suggestive rather than definitive” (Alcoholism 68). This statement clearly proves that scientists do not have enough evidence to confidently say that alcoholism is indeed genetically inherited. The idea that alcoholism is inherited might as well go on forever because ordinary and abnormal traits are consistently being turned to as something genetically inherited such as political views, sexual orientation, and even addiction to shyness. It is an ongoing battle to lay out the truth hidden within the human genome and with as advanced as technology is today, many should think that making excuses for disorders like alcoholism, or any other abnormality, is simply childish.
Aside from the obvious fact that genes have questionable impact on the way people live, it is easy to forget that environment plays a very important role in regards to the way someone lives his/her life. Charles L. Brewer once said “Heredity deals the cards, environment plays the hand” (qtd. in Jung 153). Brewer’s words imply a simple metaphor that hits genetics head on. For instance, a boy can be strong, dedicated, quick, and sly, but he has the choice to turn down a chance to play football just as much as someone with all traits pointing to abusing alcohol that chooses to turn down drinking. That someone who is prone to be the one to pick up a drink on a regular basis may have grown up determined to not be a replica of his/her alcoholic parents or in a foster home with positive values. The way someone is raised has a lot to do with possessed values and expectations of life. Thus, how a person is raised may determine whom he/she associates with and the NIAA confides that a scientific conclusion has been found that is “Consistent with findings from previous studies demonstrating strong peer influences on adolescent alcohol use” (Alcoholism 65). This certainly means that environmental factors can in fact override genetic factors when it comes to the use of alcohol. Although people physically follow a genetic make-up, environmental conditions affect the psychological and mental aspects of being or becoming an alcoholic.
Although there may be genetic evidence of a risk to becoming an alcoholic, what if someone who does not have a genetic risk suddenly becomes a psychotic binge drinker? This obviously means that alcoholism cannot entirely be concluded as a genetic disorder. Environmental factors have clearly changed this person’s views on how to deal with stress, depression, or other anxiety disorders. John Jung describes what can happen when someone possesses characteristics such as impulsivity or anxiety, “In turn, these characteristics can influence the likelihood that exposure to drugs may eventually lead to abuse or dependency” (Jung 153). The idea that everything is linked to a genetic cause just gives people who have problems an excuse for not trying to deal with them. It is a mind game and most definitely a choice to become an alcoholic. Denial to having a problem is the issue that alcoholics have when they destroy everything they have ever worked for as a result of becoming consumed in a lifestyle of consumption. Perhaps it is not denial of a problem, but the idea of being the problem, the neglected, and/or the hurt. Most children of alcoholics grow up believing they were unloved and unwanted due to physical, mental, or even sexual abuse and therefore turn to the only way of cope that they have ever known, alcohol. This is not a genetic quality because it is solely something eating away at the minds of adolescents who situate themselves environmentally to becoming alcoholics and let it happen rather than see what life can offer without the addiction. Alcohol has a powerful influence on the way people cope with their fears and anxieties, but not because they are genetically prone to becoming alcoholics, because they choose to have found a weakness and an excuse for avoiding the things they worry about.
All in all, alcoholism is very serious and it is a problem that can be fought against and prevented, regardless of the situation. Genetic research certainly has no reoccurring proof that alcoholism is something that can be inherited. Even if genetics are a factor to how people can react to alcohol, environmental factors control the way a person perceives their actions and influences him/her on whether or not to become absorbed into a lifestyle of alcoholism. Society is making up excuses for those who feel that they cannot control their bad habits and it degrades our perception on the fact that people make their own choices; their genetics do not determine them to be destined to do or become anything. Society has misunderstood the meaning for genetic research and that this research is not to make excuses for what people can control. Alcoholism is just another bad habit that people destroy their lives for and it is certainly a choice. Two authors of an article that are against the argument that alcoholism is genetic make a very powerful and meaningful statement about alcoholism and society, “Claims that our genes cause our problem, our misbehavior, even our personalities are more of a mirror of our culture’s attitudes than a window for human understanding and change” (Peele and DeGrandpre 79).