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Genetic Alcoholism

(19 Posts)
LalaDipsey Fri 08-Nov-13 21:22:26

Hi, I am worrying terribly about DTS (22months). His father is an alcoholic who has displayed some violent tendencies and has been quite verbally abusive, particularly when drunk or hungover. My son's grandfather was a violent alcoholic who has been dead for many years. His great-grandfather was a very violent alcoholic who got imprisoned for attacking his wife with an axe.
I worried that if we had a son the alcoholism may go through the male gene. How do I stop DS turning into an (at least) 4th generation violent alcoholic?

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Fri 08-Nov-13 23:12:00

Oh Lala I'm sorry. No advice from me but didn't want your post to go unanswered.

Have you thought about going to an al-anon meeting? There would be others in the same boat who may have researched this.


LalaDipsey Sat 09-Nov-13 06:42:36

Going to Al-Anon is difficult as I can't take the children. I could see if a friend could watch them maybe. Thanks

MumOfTheMoos Sat 09-Nov-13 06:57:33

My family has a history of violent alcoholism - both my father and my sister.

My view is (and this is not scientific so I may be talking bollocks) that some people are more addictive than others. So I can drink, even experiment with drugs but I don't get addicted, my sister did.

But I don't think it's inevitable and I think that there are bigger triggers than anything genetic - I don't think you're born an alcoholic! I don't know much about my fathers family life but I do know he left his family aged 16/17 during the war and never went back so I figure there might have been some issues. My sister lived through 10 or more years of my fathers violence and drinking. I think she learnt it - so the key is making sure that drinking and violence does not become the model for your DS.

I also (given my experience) don't think it has anything to do with the male line.

HTH - I'm happy to chat, as I know it's a worry. I worry that my DS will end up being a manipulative bully like my sister but I comfort myself with the fact that he has no model for it and we are all unique and as much a sum of our environment as our genes.

Toklastennis Sat 09-Nov-13 09:53:08

I would second MumofTheMoos' words, that it's learnt behaviour. I say this as a former problem drinker, the daughter of a problem drinker. Is your son's father going to be looking after him regularly? If not, then please don't worry. I am sure you will be a good influence and he will learn responsible behaviour from you, as his main caregiver.

If his son's father is going to be looking after him regularly, then I would suggest being open about his problems. Children pick up a lot, and learn what they 'should' do from the people around them. I genuinely thought everyone drank out of fear and desperation for a long time, but in fact that was just what I learnt from my father!

Also, I think it's possible to change behaviours later in life. I am living proof. I don't call mmyself a recovering alcoholic because as far as I'm concerned I'm completely recovered - I'm not an alcoholic at all, despite being in thrall to drink for 15 years.

MiaowTheCat Sat 09-Nov-13 10:43:53

My biological dad is an alcoholic wife beater. I'm not. I have various personality and mental health issues - but I attribute most of them to a narcissistic borderline emotionally neglectful mother to be honest. I'm prone to depression and anxiety, but because I know what might be lurking in my genes I do still keep a very careful eye on things like my alcohol consumption and the worst addiction I've had in my life is to candy crush saga.

LalaDipsey Sat 09-Nov-13 11:31:57

Thank you for your replies. Dc see him on a Saturday for about 3 hours and I am there too so at the moment there's not an issue. As they get older there may well be should he want to take them for a day or even overnight (the thought of which fills me with horror!).
I know my responsibility is to teach them how to behave better than that and I guess educate them about alcohol and addiction and that they may find it more tempting than others without a genetic bias towards it. I just worry that I've been very selfish bringing a boy into this world when he could grow up with all these problems hmm

AndIFeedEmGunpowder Sat 09-Nov-13 11:42:36

Glad other posters came along with great advice.

Goodness, of course you aren't selfish. Your DC are fed and loved which are the most important things. I bet they adore you! Your DC's father's illness is not your fault. If they developed drinking problems then that wouldn't be your fault either.

Although there may be a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, I agree with PP that learned behaviour is far more likely to be significant. It sounds like your DC will have a brilliant example from you.

QTPie Sat 09-Nov-13 12:37:27

I agree with previous posters. There are definitely personalities that are a lot more naturally "addictive" (in all forms), BUT nurture can do a lot to combat that.

If you bring your DS up to respect others (men and women and people of all races, religions, beliefs, shapes and sizes), understand that violence is neither the answer nor acceptable and to question his real needs and understand the need for moderation, then you hopefully avoid these problems.

You may not be able to completely avoid all exposure, but you can insure that he feels secure in talking to you about what he sees and working through it.

In today's society - where binge-drinking and over-exposure to other "temptations" (gambling, borrowing money, drugs etc) - is very common, I think that bringing up children to understand these issues and to be able to moderate their behaviour - and to be able to talk through such things with parent - is very important.

Good luck.

missmapp Sat 09-Nov-13 12:39:54

My father was an alcoholic, so was his father. My brother and I are not.

BasilBabyEater Sat 09-Nov-13 12:44:22

The jury is out on whether there is a genetic component to alcoholism, so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

What you can do, is raise your DC's in an environment where alcoholism is not the norm and where taking responsibility for your own behaviour and feelings is expected. That IME seems to be a huge factor in the behaviour of many of the alcoholics I've known - their refusal to accept responsibility for their feelings and/ or behaviour.

1944girl Wed 20-Nov-13 21:29:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

princesspants Thu 21-Nov-13 19:10:39

Both my parents have drinking issues. I drink but I stop before I get drunk and never during the week. What I am trying to say is that I have a healthy relationship with alcohol.

I didn't as a teenager and in my 20's though. I copied behaviors. Growing up = drinking.

Now, I don't feel I need a drink to enjoy myself and 2 glasses of wine is more than enough.

With my 3 children I have decided not to make drink an issue one way or another.
I don't ever drink in front of them. I don't believe one glass of wine with a meal is the way with children in Britain. It works in France where that IS the culture but we have a completely different one.
I feel I want my children to grow up and see their parents live life, be sporty, go paddle boarding and cycling and running and enjoy themselves without it. If I ever have a glass of wine in the house it is way after they are in bed.
Obviously they have seen us with a glass of wine on holiday once or twice but I don't make an issue of it or speak about it.

Children look to their parents to see what growing up is all about and you choose to show them what is important in life.

I have a long line of alcoholics in my family but neither my brother and I followed suit.

Bowlersarm Thu 21-Nov-13 19:14:51

My parents were both virtually teetotal all their lives. Half a lager, and a small sherry at Christmas. Not much more than that, and no interest in it.

I have one brother who is an alcoholic. The rest of my siblings have a tendency to drink too much but hold it in check.

As far as my experience goes, it is not genetic.

Meringue33 Fri 22-Nov-13 15:00:25

I am a recovering alcoholic.

I know alcoholics who come from a whole family of alcoholics, others who come from a family without any alcoholics at all.

You cannot cause alcoholism in your son, cure it or control it. There is no need to feel guilty.

You would probably get a lot out of Al-Anon. You may be able to take your kids along to a meeting - phone up and ask a local female member what they think.

Dollybird86 Fri 22-Nov-13 16:01:01

I believe addiction is hereditary both my parents are addicts my brother has also suffered with addiction I made a choice in my late teens/early 20s not to do any hard drugs and to only drink in controlled areas of my life I have never drank at home unless it was a social gathering/or house party. After breaking up with my first long term partner I moved city's and went out drinking a lot, I realised it was to easy to carry on and made a conscious decision not stop drinking.
I now very rarely drink but I have always had a problem with food. I use food the way the rest of my family use drugs and alcohol, it is part of my personality. I have tried to control my weight with some success but I do love food!

Dont focus on trying to prevent them becoming alcoholics, focus on the fact you are raising 2 men and that you want them to be the best men they can be.
Try not hide there farthers addiction I think you can learn just as much from other people's mistakes. The best thing you can do for them is make sure they grow up with a good understanding of themselves, that they respect there own bodies and women.

mulranno Sat 23-Nov-13 14:36:56

My husbands side of the family have every other generation alcoholics and teetotalers - as the children of the alcoholic become teetotal and then their children have become husband is tt - so I have warned my children that there is a propensity to alcoholism (and depression) in our family -so they need to be aware of their relationship with drink, keep a check on their MH and make healthy choices.

So if you keep your son well informed about what problem drinking is - then he will know when he is straying into this territory.

However the biggest thing that you need to address for you son is supporting his REALITY of the impact of having an alcoholic parent and how to cope with that as a child - it is devastating and difficult for children to process - more so than the RISK of him becoming one himself.

I am sure they are teid up in some complicated way. Al anon helped me cope with my inlaws.

Madonna1987 Sat 07-Dec-13 20:09:03

I believe it is genetic (both parents are alcoholic, however both got sober efore they had us 3 ) we all have had big problems with drink from a young age (as parents did) because of my own personal experience i am inclined to believe its nature over nurture on this.
That said, i have gone on to have a baby of my own with but with someone who is not an alcoholic. ...
Im sure nurture plays a part too, so providing a good stable home will de ensure you do the best you can. I am currently reading 'They f**ck you up' which is all about how our upbringing shapes us... Not genes. I would recommend anyone to give this bestseller a go as it is really enlightenig amd certainly makes me feel like we are not enslaved to our genes... We can help shape our childs future as mich as anything.

lljkk Sun 08-Dec-13 11:52:46

I am confident that while there is a genetic component, most of what causes alcoholism is environmental ( I come from a family alkies & druggies) So most of the factors you can control. Good self-esteem, secure environments, role models who handle life's difficulties without losing it, that's what you can provide.

Al-anon is good for recognising what is & isn't a sane way to live & put up with.

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