What if you knew your child had the “alcoholic gene”

Etta at Second Road posted a great question:

What if there were an alcoholic gene? Anyone who had this gene was sure to be an alcoholic. What if you were informed your child had it?  What would you think? What would you do?

I’ve thought a lot about it and my son is now 2 years younger than I was when I took my first drink.

Clearly, there isn’t one gene that causes it. More likely there are
multiple genes that contribute to the risk of developing an addiction.

In spite of giving it a lot of thought, I haven’t come up with a whole lot.

  • I’ll do what I can to postpone drinking and drug use as much as possible. Once experimentation begins, I’ll do what I can to not be an alarmist but will still minimize it in terms of frequency and quantity. Early use is associated with an increased risk of problems.
  • I’ll be open and honest about my recovery–trying to normalize recovery and model a path if either of my kids develop problems.
  • I’ll do what I can to foster the development of recovery capital (Recovery capital is the quantity and quality of internal and external resources that one can bring to bear on the initiation and maintenance of recovery) before they develop a problem. Hopefully, if they develop a problem, this will minimize the duration of it and the losses associated with it.
  • Most of all, I’ll just try to love them and recognize that this is one of those areas where my influence is limited. I just have to accept that.

Bill White wrote a great article calling for research in this area, you can find it here.