If we could determine who was likely to become alcoholic beforehand then it may be possible to prevent these individuals from developing the problem. This is why news that scientists have identified 11 genes that could predict this type of addiction is causing a great deal of excitement. It might not be long before young people will be able to have a blood test, which would then let them know if they are predisposed to alcoholism. Of course, it is important to be realistic with this type of development because it is known that genetics is only one of the many reasons of becoming alcoholic.
The Genetic Test for Alcoholism
News of the new diagnosis tool has been revealed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The research was carried out by the Indiana University School of Medicine, and the team found 11 genes that can be a reliable marker for alcoholism. They researched three populations of patients on two different continents and found that the link between the presence of these genes and the development of alcoholism was reasonably consistent. These same genes have been associated with many other conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and anxiety disorders.
It is important to keep in mind that the presence of these genes in a person would not guarantee that they would later develop alcoholism. Environment plays a huge role in this condition, so it would be the combination of these genetic factors with this that determine the likelihood of the disease. If people have this genetic test and it shows that they are prone to alcoholism, it could be a warning that they need be careful around drinking; or they may decide it is safer to just never drink at all.
Problems with the Genetic Test for Alcoholism
There are many concerns about the effectiveness of using these genes to test for the likelihood of alcoholism. One of the problem is that the study is based on a statistical likelihood within a group. There is no real way to tell which individuals with these genes will actually go on to develop alcoholism.
There is also the problem that there will be plenty of people without these genes who still end up becoming addicted. This genetic test could be counterproductive if it gives some people a false sense of security while making others overly concerned about a possible risk. The researchers themselves concluded that the test was only effective for predicting alcoholism in groups rather than predicting it in individuals.
The Future of Genetic Testing for Alcoholism
Genetic testing will likely play a part in the future of addiction prevention. This is not magic bullet though, and it may never be possible to flawlessly predict which people are going to become alcoholic. The best that this type of test can do is warn individuals that they may be at risk, and this information can then encourage them to cautious around alcohol. It also needs to be made clear to those who do not have these genes that this does not mean they are safe to abuse the substance.
There is a great deal of research into the alcohol addiction going on around the world; hopefully this will lead to exciting treatments in the future. There are already medications that can reduce withdrawal symptoms and eliminate cravings, but maybe one day researchers can find a way to stop people falling into addiction in the first place.