Is preposition to alcohol abuse destined to be a struggle if you have alcoholics in your family history? Many individuals who have alcoholism in their backgrounds, whether they or close family members have struggled, often worry if they or their children will inherit the disease. This is a legitimate concern being that genetic history of alcoholism is the biggest risk factor for alcoholism. There are red flags or risk factors that you or someone you love can be vulnerable to alcohol abuse.


1)   Early Onset of Alcohol Use: When individuals start drinking before the age of 15, there is an increase to the risk of alcoholism by 40% regardless of family history.

2)   High Tolerance to Alcohol: Those who have a high tolerance to alcohol are more likely to become alcoholics more than those who are remarkably affected by alcohol and are mentally affected after only one drink.   According to the book, High-Functioning Alcoholic by Rowman & Littlefield, they state that some children of alcoholics often end up marrying an alcoholic, despite their best efforts. They discuss that in the young dating years, they are drawn to mates who seem to be able to “hold their liquor,” unlike what, they may have witnessed in their alcoholic parent.

3)   Compulsive Tendencies: When an individual has one compulsive addictive behavior it can often beget another addictive behavior. An early sign is the lack of recognition of the consequences of using alcohol or other substances abusively.

4)   History of Mental Disorder(s): It is very common that alcohols have an underlying mood disorder. For example, someone who suffers from anxiety may drink to feel calmer, but when it leaves their system, they get rebound anxiety. The system is stimulated and anxiety symptoms are worsened, so then they drink again. Unfortunately, It becomes a cycle.

5)   Genetics: The chance of alcoholism is 50 percent genetics. It is not a guarantee but people underestimate the power of genetics in alcoholism. A majority of alcoholics will say that they grew up in alcoholic home. Do drinking patterns happen because of genetics or because of what they saw when they were younger or the family culture? It’s probably all of the above.

It is estimated that 8.5 percent of Americans suffer from alcohol-use disorders, and 25 percent of children have been exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug-Dependence, is a great resource for alcoholism awareness, including insights for parents and young adults.

 If you are an adult child of an alcoholic raising your own family, the most powerful tool you can use in changing your family legacy is to provide a really loving environment where open communication is encouraged. If you are also struggling with addiction, dialectical behavior therapy is very effective in helping individuals recover from an alcohol addiction with involves building mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance and emotion regulations. Call Orlando Addiction Counseling & Therapy at 407-622-1770 to start your recovery journey today!