Researchers have been studying the causes of alcoholism for decades, and recent studies have helped determine that this disease is often complicated by genetics as well as external factors.
A study published in the journal Nature Communications tells of a single gene that seems to regulate alcohol intake. The study, done by NewcastleUniversity researchers, found a mutation on one specific gene that caused increased alcohol consumption among mice.
In the study, researchers offered both water and alcohol to mice, and found that mice with the mutation "overwhelmingly preferred the alcohol." The conclusion these researchers made is that this particular mutation alters the reward system of the brain, interrupting the pathway for pleasure to be communicated.
Genetic and Environmental Causes of Alcoholism
Although the results of this study suggest a strong genetic component to alcoholism, experts are quick to state that there is still much to be learned. "We are continuing our work to establish whether the gene has a similar influence in humans, though we know that in people alcoholism is much more complicated as environmental factors come into play," study researcher Quentin Anstee told reporters. "But there is the real potential for this to guide development of better treatments for alcoholism in the future."
Studies like the one from NewcastleUniversity are important to the development of effective alcohol treatment methods. Treatment professionals already know that a technique that works for one individual may not work for another, and some individuals seem to be more prone to alcoholism than others. In order to curb the incidence of alcoholism, it is important to continue to study this disease and its causes, and work toward preventing others from getting caught up with this addiction. Those in need of alcohol treatment should consult a trusted facility in order to take control of their lives and put an end to their alcoholism.