People who drink regularly also tend to have other behavioral issues. Scientists have found genetics related to regular drinking and other addictive behaviors. They found that people who drink are more likely to have addictions to social media, internet use, gaming, exercise, gambling, hair pulling, or eating.

They believe that people who share these issues may also share genetic similarities, and they work to isolate the genes in common.

What Was in The Genetic Study?

The research, considered a genetic association analysis, comes from the Psychological and Genetic Factors of Addictions (PGA) study assessing addictive behaviors. Study participants were young, with the average age of all 3003 of them being 21. The study followed students at Hungarian high schools, colleges, and universities.

The study participants gave both DA samples and answers to questions about their addictive behavior. While study participants drank, they were also quizzed about tobacco, marijuana, or other drug use. They were also asked questions to help identify problematic and addictive behaviors such as gambling. Participation was anonymous, but all users were connected to their questionnaires and DNA information via an anonymous identification number. Drinkers were more likely to have problem behaviors.

Finding the Addictive Genes

Dr. Csaba Barta, associate professor at the Department of Molecular Biology of Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary, was one of many professionals who worked on the study. He says that genetics are often a factor, rather than environmental factors. Genetics likely cause 50 to 70% of addiction. This is why some people can try an addictive drug and never use it again, but others are instantly addicted. “However, the specific genetic variants and their neurobiological roles in addiction are not so well known. We found 29 nominally significant associations in the current study, and nine of those remained significant after statistical correction for multiple testing,” he said of the genes that may help identify vulnerability to addiction.

Previous research into the genetic origins of addiction has yielded similar results. For example, a study in 2020 found that young people who smoke were also more likely to participate in excessive exercise, eating disorders, addictive gaming/internet use, and gambling.

Researchers have made progress, discovering that the gene FOXN3 and its variant seemed to be associated with problem drinking. The same variant also may be related to online addictions such as gambling or internet pornography. People who had a different variant were found to be more prone to exercise addiction.

Researchers also discovered that the DRD2/ANKK1 gene and its so-called rs1800497 A variant seem related to problematic cannabis use.

Identifying these genes can help researchers learn the medical side of addictions and develop new treatments and ideas for addiction medicine.