Criminal Justice Sample Essay on Whether Is Alcohol Hereditary?

Is Alcohol Hereditary?

            Archeological evidence shows that fermented beverages existed from as early as 10,000BC. In the current century, alcohol has contributed to almost 1.8 million deaths globally, and around 58 million disability-adjusted life years (Faroud, Edenberg & Crabbe, 2010). This shows how alcohol consumption is a threat to the life of humanity. Owing to this threat, scholars sought to understand whether environmental factors, genetic factors and social factors contributed to alcohol dependence (Faroud, Edenberg & Crabbe, 2010). This saw the development of several studies such as family, twin and adoption, which provided empirical evidence of genetic factors contributing to the development of alcohol dependence (Dick &Agrawal, 2008). This assignment seeks to advance the proposition that alcohol is hereditary.

There have been substantial studies to identify the specific genes that cause alcoholism, since it was established that alcohol is hereditary (Dick &Agrawal, 2008). Since then, human studies have used different approaches in identifying co-inheritance of a given genetic marker. This would help to support the hypothesis that alcohol is hereditary. Cadherin 11 (CDH11), Cadherin 13 (CDH13), GATA binding protein 4 (GATA4), Solute Carrier Family 22, and Member 18 (SLC22A18) are some of the candidate genes that show alcohol is hereditary.

A study investigating the impact of the candidate genes support a polygenic model that shows the hereditary aspect of alcohol that can contribute to alcohol dependence. Many other investigators have used problems related to alcohol consumption to show that alcohol is hereditary (Nieratschker, Batra & Fallgatter, 2013). A study including 449 people, who were from 173 families and 19 of who had a family member diagnosed with alcohol dependence or abuse showed that the people with particular differences in the GABBRA2 gene were more likely to show alcohol dependence signs, and higher rates of impulsiveness in times of distress (Villafuerteet al., 2011).

 The results showed that women had stronger associations than men, which describes the difference in alcohol pathways in the two genders. Women often drink to relieve anxiety and distress (Villafuerteet al., 2011).The study further included 44 young adults from the families as they took part in the game, which they anticipated to either winning or losing money (Villafuerte et al., 2011). The study used neuroimaging to find out genetic variance. This also helped to show how their brains reacted to particular situations. Apparently, adults with one form of the GABRA2 gene associated with alcoholism showed higher activation in the insula when participating in the game when compared to others with varying combinations.

This higher activation reflected a greater level of impulsiveness in distress. Therefore, GABRA2 applies an influence on a susceptible neural system, which in turn results to early vulnerability issues, and later alcohol dependency (Villafuerte et al., 2011). Evidence, further suggests that genetic factors predispose people to alcohol dependence, with heritability approximations about 50%. Twin and electrophysiological attributes show that the risk of developing alcohol dependence is partly due to shared genes. The cholinergic system involves neurons, which either secrete neurotransmitter acetylcholine, or inhibit its subsequent secretion.

Acetylcholine takes part in processes such as arousal, learning and short memory, and one of the genes involved is CHRM2. There is empirical evidence that links the gene to alcohol dependence (Dick &Agrawal, 2008). Research is growing to show that indeed alcohol is hereditary. Investigators are following evidence-based approaches, utilizing both animal models and human models. This essay uses typical empirical studies that have provided evidence that alcohol is hereditary. Nonetheless, future research should utilize technological intervention to help aid in the interrogation of genomes involved in alcohol consumption.


Dick, M. D., & Agrawal, A. (2008). The genetics of alcohol and other drug dependence. Alcohol

            research & health, 31(2), 111-118.

Faroud, T., Edenberg, J. H., & Crabbe, C. J. (2010). Who is at risk of alcoholism? Alcohol

            research & health, 33(1), 64-75.

Nieratschker, V., Batra, A., & Fallgatter, J. A. (2013). Genetics and epigenetics of alcohol

            dependence. Journal of molecular psychiatry, 1(11), 1-6.

Villafuerte, S. et al. (2012). Impulsiveness and insula activation during reward anticipation are

associated with genetic variants in GABRA2 in a family sample enriched for alcoholism. Molecular psychiatry, 17(5), 511-519.