Researchers have narowed down on a gene variant that leads some macaque monkeys to consume more alcohol in experiments.
Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the scientists found that the gene, known as the corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) gene, is an important part of how humans respond to everyday stress, reports The BBC.
CRF can become overactive and lead to stress-related problems such as anxiety, depression and alcoholism.
And now, the boffins are claiming that the some monkeys with the gene variant drank more alcohol, possibly to relieve their anxiety.
Particularly, the "T" form of the gene was linked to increased voluntary consumption of alcohol in drinks equivalent to the strength of strong beer.
Some were drinking "well over the limit, maybe up to four or five drinks in one hour. They're not drinking it because it's tasty, it smelt like rubbing alcohol".
"And they act much like humans do: some sleep, some are friendly, others are aggressive," said Christina Barr, from the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the authors of the study.
The findings may eventually lead to new treatments for alcoholism.