Nature vs. Nurture As A Cause of Alcoholism

Since I’ve been featuring a new infographic on the Bulletin every day this year, I’ve started getting a number of e-mails from people and companies trying to promote their own sites using infographics, offering them up as potential ones for me to use. I got one today created by Clarity Way, a recovery center in Hanover, Pennsylvania. In reality, this one is a video that uses graphics similar to those found in infographics to tell its story. Perhaps I’m being overly strict, but I think an “infographic” should be a static image, or at a minimum interactive, but starting with a graphic, with info. It’s right there in the name. Still, there’s some interesting info here, though since they’re trying to sell rehab, I think they’ve inflated some of the data. For example, they claim “7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol.” [emphasis added.] Dependent is one thing, but given the modern definition of binge drinking, almost anyone could be said to have “abused alcohol” at least once in their life. Frankly, none of the statistics seem that terrible to me. There’s an equal chance that alcoholism comes from heredity or from your environment, but only 8.3% of people “suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.” That wording is also odd. You can certainly suffer from alcohol dependence, but how can you be said to suffer from abuse? Have five drinks in a row, and you’ve abused alcohol, according to most health agencies and neo-prohibitionist groups. Remove those people who have ever “abused” alcohol once, or even occasionally but are not dependent on it, and that number, I suspect, would drop precipitously.


  1. says

    Most geneticists would argue that virtually nothing in the human phenotype (including behavior) is due to an either/or dichotomy. Behavior, especially, seems to lend itself to genes and environment interactions where as some say, genes lay down the potential and environments reveal or do not reveal that potential. And then, of course, recently there is epistasis and that throws the whole argument into a cocked hat. Long live Lamarck!!


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