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Alcoholism: Nature vs Nurture Essay

A recent study by Dr. Ming D. Li shows that alcoholism (the addiction to alcohol) may actually be linked to a genetic trait- making alcoholism a product of nature. Dr. Li is the head of neurobiology at the University of Virginia, and states that this research is “unique” because it shows that a single gene variation- one which alters the brain’s control of serotonin, a mood influencing neurological chemical- is connected to a kind of behavior: alcoholism.

“This research really takes the next step down the line,” said Dr. Robert Philbert, Director of the Laboratory of Psychiatric Genetics at the University of Iowa.

Though this research does prove that nature (or genetics) is the cause of alcoholism, the study says these genes only account for 40 to 50% of a person’s risk of becoming an alcoholic- the rest of the risk spawns from the atmosphere and environment in which the individual develops. Li also cautioned that it is unlikely that a single genetic trait by itself would make someone more susceptible to alcoholism. It is more likely that a genetic variation works with other genes to raise the risk, he said.

It is my personal opinion that alcoholism is more likely based on nurture than nature. Environmental factors have a larger influence than genetics. I feel that alcoholism, although ones genes may predispose them to the disease, can be controlled, or even stopped from ever beginning. It is my belief that if a person wills themselves not to drink alcohol insatiably, then they can do so. Alcoholism is a conscious decision that individuals can control with a strong mindset. Without one, however, the disease can control them.


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