is alcoholism genetic

Is Alcoholism Genetic?

Alcoholism (or alcohol addiction) is a substance use disorder, an actual brain disease. Like other disorders, it directly affects the way the brain usually works. In this case, the changes in brain function are brought on by damage after prolonged exposure to substances. 

This damage can affect simple functions like judgment, decision-making, behavior, self-control, and many others. These changes cause chemical and neural imbalances that can have long-term consequences. By the time a person is an alcoholic, much of the damage will have reached severe levels. 

Because it is a process, someone who is addicted might not realize how deep in it they are. The way that tolerance gradually builds up makes it harder for them to see that. As the disorder develops, other areas of their lives will be affected. The changes in behavior and decision-making will result in them having control over very little in their lives.

Only a licensed professional can say whether a person is addicted or not. However, that lack of control is the most significant sign of alcoholism and other substance use disorders. Having drinks when socializing or a few times a month, however, is not necessarily alcoholism. There is a difference, and there are many red flags to look out for if you’re concerned about yourself or others:

  • Drinking alone at home (notably worse if it’s in secret)
  • Not being able to cut down or limit alcohol consumption
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, activities, and people they once enjoyed
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking for a while
  • Blacking out often and rarely remembering what they did when drinking
  • Having “set drinking times”, like drinking every day after work, and being annoyed when others comment on it 
  • Storing alcohol in unlikely places, sometimes even bringing it with them to inappropriate places
  • Having legal problems due to their drinking habits
  • Not keeping to their schedule or not doing the tasks they need to
  • Engaging in risky behavior to drink or while drinking

A person won’t go from a monthly drink to full-on alcoholism in a week. A person goes through many stages until they become addicted. But once many of these red flags start to show, they might be treading dangerous ground. 

What is most important to understand is that alcoholism is a disease. Until very recently, drug and alcohol addiction was considered by most to be a character flaw or “bad habit.” Today, scientists, medical professionals, and even the general public understand that addiction is a disease that can be treated. But many people still ask themselves: is alcoholism genetic?

Is Alcoholism Genetic?

For a long time, scientists have known that alcoholism seems to run in families. Now, it is known that genetics play a role in alcohol addiction. But the definitive answer to the question “is alcoholism genetic?” has generated many discussions in the addiction treatment community.

According to research, genes account for about half of the risk of alcoholism. Some have even stated that alcoholism can be considered a genetic disease and that many genes might affect it. Genes related to the development of alcoholism have also been identified, and studies believe more will be uncovered.

For instance, at the University of Texas, researchers identified sets of genes that work together as a network in people addicted to alcohol. These genes seem to “work differently” in non-alcoholics. 

Scientists are hopeful that these findings could help people with addictions, including treatments and therapies in the future. Knowing which addiction genes work together can also possibly lead to screening for a patient’s potential for alcoholism. This would help stop addiction before it ever begins.

Having a family history may or may not be a sign of the presence of alcoholism-related genes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it runs in the family, but it is a red flag. Knowing more about that history and the people who developed alcoholism can be a preventative measure.

Although a link to genetics and alcoholism has been proven, that alone won’t make someone an alcoholic. Addiction is triggered when coping mechanisms are not enough to overcome external stressors and factors. In other words, a person might be “pushed” into addiction. That is because environmental factors also make up a (significant) portion of the risk.

The Bigger Issue Than Genetics

A more important issue than whether alcoholism is genetic is family relationships. How people treat each other and behave within families can influence addiction more than genes. Family life is known to affect whether children grow up to become addicted to alcohol. The following family problems do contribute to alcoholism, according to researchers:

  • Alcoholic parent(s) suffering from alcoholism or other disorders
  • Both parents drinking excessively or abusing other drugs
  • Severe alcohol abuse by parents occuring in the home (worse if the kids have access to alcohol)
  • Aggression, abuse, or violence are present in the family

A person’s experiences can be a much stronger factor in alcoholism than genetics. Negative, stressful events in the family can create an environment where one might be prone to developing alcoholism. In fact, that goes beyond family experiences.

Experiencing abuse and trauma on any level can trigger the disorder. As mentioned, when stressors become too much, that is when someone might try to “self-medicate” with alcohol. Additionally, this also happens with mental disorders that can cause symptoms that are quite hard to deal with. In fact, about 60% of people suffering from addiction also report suffering from a psychiatric disorder, making a dual diagnosis more common than a single one.

Because drinking is common behavior and legal, alcohol is the easiest substance to obtain. Therefore, it might be the first option for someone who is having a hard time. Since drinking is often portrayed in the media as a way to relax and cope, this behavior is even more likely.

How To Address Alcoholism With Your Family

Just because a parent(s) might suffer from alcoholism, it’s not a given that their children will, too. 

One can learn from their parents’ lifestyles and experiences. If you or maybe your partner suffer from alcoholism, and you want to address it with your family, you can – and you should. Keeping a topic so important taboo is what makes some repeat the family’s history. 

Maybe your kid might have seen a relative struggle with it, and they’ve asked: “is alcoholism genetic?”. Or perhaps they might have asked you, “what is alcoholism?”. Whatever might have caused the need to discuss it, it is important to be honest, and transparent. You should also be open to any questions they might have about alcoholism. Here are some tips for helping your children or teenagers remain free from addiction:

  • Help them understand the problems of underage drinking and not to drink until they are of legal age.
  • Teach your children through words, and as an example, how to drink with moderation.
  • Explain that alcoholism is a disease, but not a character trait – you can be a good person and become addicted to alcohol.
  • Talk to healthcare professionals who can make recommendations to help you and your children avoid problems with alcoholism.
  • If a parent or sibling is in treatment, make sure to include the whole family in activities involving them in the program.

The last point is important not just for the family, but for the person in treatment as well. The entire family needs to know what will change in their dynamic in order to help the patient. Younger family members will also get a chance to understand the process better. 

The National Association of Children of Alcoholics suggests that, when talking to kids, one can use the “7 C’s”. This would help children process a little better while introducing essential concepts about alcoholism at an early age. These 7 C’s are:

  1. I didn’t cause it.
  2. I can’t cure it.
  3. I can’t control it.
  4. I can care for myself
  5. by communicating my feelings,
  6. making healthy choices, and
  7. by celebrating myself.

Knowing the right time to approach this might be hard. Sometimes, it might be because of an event. Other times, because they might become older and have chances of being exposed to alcohol. But you must have this discussion. Otherwise, if they have problems, they might be hesitant to ask for help.

First Step Behavioral Health Changes The Fate Of Families

Alcoholism is a disorder, and as such, it requires proper attention and treatment. If you or someone you love needs help with alcohol addiction, First Step Behavioral Health can provide hope and care for families. Through treatment, the future can be brighter and more hopeful than ever before. 

We understand that families are affected by a patient’s alcoholism and vice-versa. We also acknowledge the importance of their involvement in a healthy way in order to support a patient. That is why our program promotes family participation through organized activities. We also provide resources for the family to learn about alcoholism and how to best support the patient.

If you want to learn more about overcoming an alcohol addiction, visit our website for more information, and contact First Step Behavioral Health, or call 855-425-4846 now. We can help you and your family learn about the challenges of alcoholism. Families need to stick together no matter what, and we hope to be that “glue” through recovery.


drugs and alcohol

Why Drugs and Alcohol Don’t Mix

If you frequently use drugs and alcohol, you have certainly heard that drugs and drinking don’t mix. But most people who abuse drugs have also used alcohol, whether at the same time or in a general sense. While you may not feel that “it could happen to you,” mixing these two types of substances can be fatal.

Why Drugs and Alcohol Don’t Mix

Alcohol slows your nervous system down due to its depressant nature, impairing your functioning, causing poor coordination and possibly leading to addiction. If you mix drugs and alcohol, the results can be dangerous and even fatal. This is true, whether the drugs are prescription, recreational or even over the counter.

Taking drugs with alcohol can:

  • Cause the drug to become ineffective
  • Exacerbate the drug’s effects
  • Strengthen the drug’s side effects
  • Change how the alcohol affects the body
  • Lead to negative health effects
  • Cause death

How Drugs and Alcohol Used Together Cause Harm

When mixing drugs with alcohol, how your body reacts to the mixed substances largely depends upon the type of drugs used. Below are some of the most commonly abused drugs and how alcohol affects people using them:

Anxiety Medications, Antipsychotics and Antidepressants

When people taking these types of medications mix those drugs with alcohol, their depression may actually worsen, the central nervous system may be slowed dangerously and respiratory failure is a distinct possibility.


Mixing pain pills with alcohol can cause liver damage, kidney failure, internal bleeding, ulcers, unconsciousness, respiratory depression and death.

Cough Medicine

Heart problems, respiratory distress and death are possible when drinking while taking cough medicine.

Recreational Drugs Like GHB and Marijuana

Vomiting, unconsciousness, respiratory failure, coma and other results may occur from a mixture of alcohol with these drugs.


Bad hangovers, organ damage, alcohol poisoning, liver failure and death may occur.

Even mixing recreational drugs and alcohol on one occasion can be fatal. At the very least, doing so regularly makes addiction far more likely.

1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, FL Helps Patients Addicted to Both Alcohol and Drugs

Whether you’re addicted to alcohol, drugs or both, 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida can help you overcome your substance abuse. Long-term residential, partial hospitalization, outpatient and intensive outpatient rehab treatment programs are all available through 1st Step Behavioral Health, for focused treatment of your addiction. Being addicted to one or more substances is scary. But lifelong recovery is a possibility when you’re ready to work for sobriety and are committed to putting your past behind you.

If you or someone you love are ready for comprehensive addiction treatment therapies, call 1st Step Behavioral Health now at (866) 319-6126 for more information about available programs. Make this call before addiction leads to fatal consequences in your life.

The First Steps in the Drug and Alcohol Rehab Process

Addiction is a disease that affects everyone regardless of race, gender, age or social class. When individuals enter drug and alcohol rehab, they begin a journey toward long-term sobriety. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, he or she may want to attend an inpatient or outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab offers higher success rates and more intensive treatment, but outpatient rehab offers more flexibility for people who have work or family responsibilities that can’t be put aside.

The First Step in Drug and Alcohol Rehab: Recognizing You Have a Problem

The start of the recovery process is becoming aware that there’s a problem. Over time, addicted individuals may not realize the impact that their habit has on their work, family and health. Sometimes, it takes a family member or friend to point out that there’s a problem. Once addicted individuals recognize that they have a problem, they’re ready to seek out help at a drug and alcohol rehab center.

Considering Options for Treatment

In the second step, addicted individuals begin to look for treatment centers and programs that can help them become sober. At this stage in the process, it’s important to involve family members and friends. With support from loved ones, patients are better able to achieve sobriety. In addition, addicted individuals may use this stage of the process to learn more about their addiction and the impact that it has on their life.

Exploring Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers

Once individuals are no longer in denial, they can find a treatment center that works for them. The early recovery process begins once patients are ready to get clean. Often, patients will choose a long-term care facility to get in-depth treatment. Longer rehab programs have higher success rates than outpatient facilities. Patients can enroll in long-term care options ranging from 6 to 12 months.

At the treatment center, patients are in a caring environment where they can begin their recovery. Talk therapy and family therapy are used to uncover the root causes of addiction. At some treatment centers, patients can also receive dual diagnosis treatment. Conditions like depression, PTSD, anxiety and bipolar disorder can contribute to an addiction because some people use drugs to self-medicate. By getting dual diagnosis treatment, patients can target the root cause of their addiction and get help.

Therapy Options

As patients begin rehab, there are several treatment options available. Holistic therapies like acupuncture and massage therapy help to soothe anxiety and agitation. Meanwhile, art and music therapy give patients an outlet for their thoughts, feelings and stress. Once patients have made significant progress toward their recovery, they can begin relearning life skills like grocery shopping and time management. Learning life skills helps patients to reintegrate into normal life and unlearn habits related to their addiction.

Recovery is a journey that unfolds over a lifetime. If you or a loved one has an addiction, professional drug rehab is the answer. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 to begin your journey toward sobriety.

How Opioid Addiction Is Becoming a New Epidemic

In 2014, more people died from a drug overdose than in any year on record in the United States. Out of these deaths, a majority occurred because of an opioid addiction. From 2000 to 2014, a total of half a million people died from drug-related causes. Part of this is due to easy access to prescription drugs.

Opioid Addiction Changes From Prescription Drugs to Heroin

For years, OxyContin was one of the most popular ways for opioid-addicted individuals to get high. The pills would be crushed and snorted for an increased euphoria. In 2010, manufacturers of OxyContin changed the drug’s formula so that it would be harder to crush and abuse. After the deterrent was added, the number of OxyContin abusers dropped from 35.6% to 12.8%.

Unfortunately, the drug changes didn’t stop opioid addiction. Instead, many individuals switched to other medications like Percocet or illegal street drugs like heroin. While Percocet is safe when used according to the prescription, it can become addictive. By 2016, the CDC and FDA announced that they were going to take steps to prevent opioid abuse. Currently, an estimated 26% of patients using opioids are believed to have an addiction.

Heroin and Opioid Addiction

From 2002 to 2013, heroin use rose among young adults. Out of new heroin users, 75% abused prescription opioids before switching to heroin. This change is caused by the heroin’s lower price and ready availability. In addition, the purity of heroin available in the United States has increased in recent years.

Heroin has remained a problem along the Southwest border. From 2000 to 2009, the Drug Enforcement Agency seized 500 kilograms of heroin a year. By 2013, this number increased to 2,196 kilograms a year. This rise in drug trafficking was matched by an increase in heroin deaths. From 2010 to 2014 heroin deaths tripled. In 2014, there were 10,574 heroin deaths in the country. For synthetic opioids, fatalities increased from 3,105 in 2013 to 5,544 fatalities in 2014.

Getting Help With an Opioid Addiction

Fortunately, there are options available for addicted individuals who need help. Chemical dependency centers offer specialized programs for treating opioid abuse. At these treatment centers, patients can detox from the drug and safely go through the withdrawal process. Once the initial detox is complete, patients enter the rehab part of the program. During this stage, treatment centers use therapy options like art therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help with recovery.

No one deserves to live with an addiction. Over time, an addiction can change every part of your life. If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, professional rehab is the key to treating your addiction. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health today at (866) 319-6126 to get help.

Alcohol detox in Coral Springs that can help my parents addiction?

How Alcoholism Affects Different Members of the Family

While people with an alcohol addiction must detox and work through their problems, family counseling is a necessity during treatment. Over time, alcoholism has a strong impact on the family and friends of alcoholics. From the genetic component of addiction to relationship quality, family members are intensely involved in the addiction.

Alcoholism Is Often a Family Problem

While scientists aren’t sure which genes are responsible for addiction, research shows that there’s a strong genetic component. Someone with an alcoholic parent is far more likely to become an alcoholic than if the parent wasn’t an alcoholic. This doesn’t mean that the addiction is inevitable, but it does mean that individuals should be careful about substance abuse issues if a family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Families Can Be Hurt by Alcoholism

Over the course of an alcohol addiction, the alcoholic’s behaviors can cause severe problems in his or her family. Alcoholics may be destructive to the people or possessions around them. They may act in an abusive manner or experience conflict with their spouse. If alcoholic women are pregnant, their addiction could cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

For children, an addiction can lead to severe repercussions. Children are more likely to become addicted if the parent has substance abuse problems. They may witness cases of domestic violence or be abused. Children and spouses may feel isolated, and economic hardship may become a problem. Alcoholics are also more likely to deal with infidelity, jealousy and divorce in their personal relationships.

Coping With Alcoholism in a Family

When someone is an alcoholic at home, the family members tend to go through several emotional stages over time. The first stage is normally the concern stage. At this time, the family members are genuinely concerned and want to help. Often, family members don’t realize how severe the problem is at this stage.

Afterward, families tend to enter the defense and adaptation stages. In the defense stage, the family members may ignore the addiction and may defend their actions. Some family members may even feel like they are partly to blame for the addiction. As family members transition to the adaptation stage, they begin to change their habits to adjust for the addiction. Some family members may resort to substance abuse to cope, or they may try to become the perfect family member.

In the last stage, family members enter the exhaustion phase. At this point, friends and relatives are completely exhausted. They may become depressed as they lose sight of their own self-worth. In addition, family members may continue to enable addictive behaviors.
When addicted individuals are ready to treat their alcoholism, family therapy and counseling is an important component of treatment. The whole family must learn how to break the cycle of denial, exhaustion and adaption. Professional drug and alcohol rehab is the key to overcoming an addiction. To find out more and begin your journey to sobriety, call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126.

Do I Have to Start Drug Rehab With a Detox Program?

While many addicted individuals go through a detox program, it isn’t necessary for every single instance. Detox treatments are designed to remove a physical dependency on drugs and alcohol before the rehab process begins. Patients often choose to detox under medical supervision because it helps them manage withdrawal symptoms. In addition, detoxing at a treatment center ensures that patients won’t relapse while they are going through withdrawal symptoms.

What Withdrawal Symptoms Are Experienced in a Detox Program?

Every drug addiction is unique, and each person has a different body chemistry. Depending on your unique body characteristics, the biology of your addiction and the drugs that you use, your withdrawal symptoms may vary. Withdrawal symptoms also come in various forms. People may experience emotional and mental symptoms, including: 

  • Social isolation
  • Restlessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression 
  • Irritability

Physically, individuals may experience symptoms like:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Chest tightness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breathing trouble
  • Muscle tension
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

While many withdrawal symptoms aren’t life-threatening, some serious side effects could occur during the withdrawal phase. In more severe cases, individuals may suffer strokes, delirium tremens, grand mal seizures, heart attacks, or hallucinations.


When it comes to drug and alcohol use, people who suffer from these problems often have trouble ending their substance use habits. This is because of the emotional, physical, and mental effects of withdrawal. In many cases, those who desire to stop using alcohol or drugs struggle to do so, resulting in addiction relapse in order to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal.

But, if an individual truly wants to become free from substance abuse, it’s important to get the guidance and help necessary in order to truly overcome these challenges. This is where addiction detox programs come in.

The detox process involves various components, all working to help individuals end alcohol or drug use before they begin their addiction treatment and rehab. 

The first step of the detox process is an evaluation. The rehab center’s team of medical professionals first perform an evaluation, determining the exact needs of each client. This evaluation is both physical and psychiatric in nature, meaning that it focuses on determining the individual’s physical and mental states. The medical team will find out the type of substances in the patient’s system, look at medical history and physical health, and review the mental health of the individual in order to establish the best route of detox and, eventually, treatment.

Stabilization is the next part of the detox process. During this phase, individuals go through therapy and receive medications that can help them to comfortably withdraw from substance use. Therapy helps individuals to become more mentally and emotionally stable as they end alcohol or drug use, which can help to prevent relapse from occurring. Through medications prescribed by the medical professionals at the rehab center, individuals can work through the detox process, avoiding the intensity and discomfort of withdrawal.

Finally, those enrolled in a detox program receive more information about the process and what they should expect as they detox from alcohol or drug use. This phase is called “detox preparation”. Individuals will also receive guidance about the next steps they should take once the detox process is over. In many cases, further treatment will be suggested; inpatient addiction treatment is often the next step after addiction detox.


A detox program is designed to remove a physical dependency on drugs or alcohol. This natural process takes place whenever you stop using drugs. While it can be accomplished at home, it’s considerably safer and more comfortable to go through detox at a professional treatment facility. Some patients can detox alone, but medical facilities can help prevent serious side effects and ensure the patient’s safety.

Many treatment programs require patients to go through detox before they start rehab. If patients try to start rehab before they have detoxed, they may have problems focusing during therapy and may not receive the same benefits from treatment. Ideally, detox should occur in a medically-supervised program. Medical staff members can monitor detox 24/7 and manage symptoms. In addition, a treatment center can make sure that patients are nourished and hydrated as they complete detox.

Often, people believe that detoxification programs are unnecessary. In truth, each person is different and will have an individual journey to recovery, either with or without a professional detox program. But, in many cases, those who detox from substance use before beginning the rehab and treatment processes succeed in treatment because they took that first step. 

Going through a detox program gives individuals the opportunity to safely end drug or alcohol use without the fear of becoming severely ill or suffering from life-threatening effects. People who choose to end substance use in their lives with the help of a professional detox program have the advantage of withdrawing in a safe, comfortable environment, surrounded by people who understand and can guide them through the entire process. 


Now that you know more about detox programs, the process of ending substance use, and the benefits of going through a professional detox process, you may be wondering if you should consider detoxing at a treatment facility. 

Since every patient is unique, there’s no simple answer to this question. If you are thinking about attending a detox center, you can talk to a rehabilitation facility to learn more about their options. Rehab facilities are experienced at handling drug detox and rehab, so they are able to help you decide which options work best in your case.


Many times, people simply detox from substance abuse and then return to normal life. But, this is not always the best choice. For some people, this can actually lead to addiction relapse because of the lack of therapy and support. After detox, individuals may need to go through treatment, receiving counseling and gaining the skills they need in order to avoid relapse.

During inpatient therapy, individuals attend group and individual therapy sessions while living at a treatment facility. Inpatient treatment allows people to end substance abuse in a safe environment that is free from alcohol or drugs. This may be very helpful for those who live in a place where they have little to no support and may be influenced to use alcohol or drugs after they’ve detoxed. 

There are various types of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), art therapy, and music therapy. Individuals may also engage in holistic therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. Through these various therapy approaches, individuals can gain many of the skills and tools they will need in order to remain free from addiction, even after their treatment is over.

In outpatient treatment, which is often the next step after an inpatient program, people can work their way back into life outside of treatment. They may be able to return to work, continue school, and live at home while still getting professional guidance and therapy. For many, this kind of treatment program is extremely helpful because it provides the support they need as they transition from inpatient treatment to “normal” life.

If you are unsure about whether or not you need to go through an inpatient or outpatient program after completing your detox program, it might be helpful to speak with the professional team at your rehab facility. Since they are aware of your emotional, mental, and physical needs, they can help you to develop the right approach to treatment and determine what you will need as you continue to overcome substance abuse in your life. 


Here at 1st Step Behavioral Health, we are committed to making sure each of our clients receive the care and help they need in order to successfully gain their freedom from substance abuse. We know that each individual has unique and specific needs. So, our mission is to develop the best approach to treatment for all of the individuals who come to us for help.

If you do, in fact, need to go through a detox process, our staff will work with you to begin your safe and medically-supervised road to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. We know that you may be facing a lot of uncertainties and dealing with countless questions as you pursue this new way of life. It can be challenging to take a step in a new direction, even if you know it’s for the best. That’s why we are here, offering you the opportunity to find freedom in a way that fits your needs and makes you feel comfortable.

Whether you plan on going through the detoxification process at home or at a treatment facility, there are addiction specialists who can help you. Professional drug rehab is the key to successfully treating your addiction. To find out how rehab can help your recovery process, call 1st Step Behavioral Health today at (866) 319-6126.