Millions of Americans are affected by alcoholism everyday. There has been much debate over the causes of alcoholism. For a long time, the idea that alcoholism ran in families has been known. Some feel that alcoholism is caused by the environment in which a person exists and others argue that it is a genetic disease. It has been confirmed that alcoholism is considered a disease; however, the nature vs. nurture debate is still on-going. Over the past several years, more and more information has been linked to the biological causes of alcoholism. "The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence claims that more than 13 million American adults are alcoholics, and another 76 million have been affected by an alcoholic in the family-(1). Alcohol related deaths toll up to 100,000 deaths annually. These crimes include assault, rape, and homicide. This information shows the severity of the disease and also the complications that go along in studying the disease. .
Alcoholism is a very complex disease with many different causes linked to it. These include depression, anxiety, harsh childhoods and family background. There is no one answer to the question of whether or not alcoholism is inherited or if it is developed later in life. In fact, alcoholism is a combination of both the environment and biological factors. Much research has been done on the genetics of alcoholism. Twin studies, adoption studies, and animal studies have been done in order to track any genetic linkage to the disease. Most people express the opinion that alcoholism is a physical/mental condition that is predetermined biologically. .
Animal studies can in fact be on of the must effective tools in determining some of the causes of the disease. For over 15 years, a psychologist by the name of Dee Higley raised rhesus monkeys in order to determine the importance of genes as determinants for alcoholism. He discovered that if they have had a genetic history with alcoholism along with a bad childhood in which they grow up without their parents, than that would lead to chronic alcoholism.