Alcoholism :: Personality n parents’ alcoholism govern person?s alcoholism risk

American researchers have linked an individual’s risk of becoming an alcoholic to his personality and parental alcoholism.

High novelty seeking is a strong risk factor for alcoholism among children of alcoholics (COAs), but low novelty seeking decreases the risk of developing alcoholism among COAs, the authors state in their study.

“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, according to the authors.

The study indicates that this risk is further enhanced if these children have an alcoholic parent.

“Although familial alcoholism has long been known to increase the risk of alcoholism in offspring, the risk is not 100 percent. 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,” said Kevin Conway, associate director of the Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Our key finding is the interaction between novelty seeking and parental alcoholism. 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,” said Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine.

However, he said, that 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.”

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

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