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Alcoholism runs in families


FATHER JAMES SCHWERTLEY

      In families where one parent is an alcoholic, half of the children will become alcoholic.

      This startling statistic released by the National Council on Alcoholism leads to the Question: “Is alcoholism hereditary?”

      Those who counsel in this field soon notice that many clients had one alcoholic parent, maybe two.

      There is no specific biologic evidence that alcoholism is hereditary. However, it would appear to be so based on experience. It does seem that certain nationalities such as Native American and Irish have a large incidence of alcoholism. It also is true that alcoholism runs in families, giving credence to the idea, without biological proof of heredity.

      In this country, we use alcohol as a mood changer. This plus the pressurized living gives us the highest alcoholism rate in the world. And we are a melting pot country with a wide variety of nationalities.

      It can also be said that alcoholism is “psychologically” hereditary. There is a family deficit and disorder in alcoholic families. There is a lack of good balance between love and discipline in dealing with kids. All this tends to lead to a codependent atmosphere, and insecure environment, making members more prone to alcoholic behavior.

      Why some kids in alcoholic families develop alcoholism and some don’t is probably explained by different temperaments in children as well as biology. Some individuals are more flexible and resilient and therefore less affected by family turmoil.  They also might receive support and guidance from inside or outside the family that helps them mature more normally. In families where there is a move to recovery by the nonalcoholic parent or both, there is a reduced rate of addiction in the offspring.

      The longer the children are exposed to alcoholic behavior, the greater the long term effect and increased chance of addiction.

      The best thing a parent can do to avoid drug and alcohol problems in the young is limit alcohol consumption when possible, strive mightily to develop good family relationships and seek counseling quickly if problems arise. Only in such homes is it unlikely that children will become alcoholic statistics.

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