Scientists believe they have found a gene that predisposes people to become alcoholics. According to results from a study involving 262 families with alcoholic members all were assessed for three genes in an area on chromosome 15 that had previously been linked to alcoholism.
Results showed one of the genes -- GABRG3 -- did appear to influence alcoholism risk. Researchers aren't sure how the gene predisposes someone to alcohol dependence, but note the gene is related to a receptor that allows Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory chemical in the central nervous system, to move between nerve cells. Other studies suggest alcohol abuse and dependence might be related to an overactive central nervous system. Alcohol may calm this over activity, leading people who have inherited the condition to develop alcohol dependence.
The investigators are quick to point out, however, many factors are likely involved in becoming an alcoholic and just inheriting the right genes is only part of the picture.One reason it is so difficult to find genes involved in psychiatric disorders is that there is an interplay between genetic and environmental factors.
Researchers say that a person can carry all kinds of genes that predispose them to alcohol dependence, but if they never take a drink, they won't become an alcoholic.