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Alcoholism could run in families

By Kizito Lubano | Dec 16th 2015 | 2 min read
By Kizito Lubano | December 16th 2015

NAIROBI: This past week I participated in a family therapy session for a family member who is undergoing rehabilitation for alcoholism.

He started off as a social drinker then this progressed into an addiction that has seen him lose his job, his family, position, respect and hierarchy in the extended family.

He finally decided he needed help and voluntarily checked into rehab in October for a non-stop 90 days healing process.

Unlike in days gone by, alcoholism and addiction is today recognised as a disease like any other and one that might have a strong genetic component.

Alcoholism often seems to run in families, and we may soon hear about scientific studies of an “alcoholism gene.” However, while genetics certainly influence our likelihood of developing alcoholism, the story is not that simple.

Research shows that genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism which means genes alone do not determine whether or not someone will become an alcoholic. Environmental factors, such as a person’s interactions, accounts for the remainder of the risk

It is therefore extremely important that family members pay attention whenever one of them is battling with alcoholism because the genes must be lurking below the surface and a little trigger would be all that’s needed to set the vicious cycle in place.

Despite legislative attempts to curb drinking, Kenya is still facing a great threat from alcohol abuse. Calamities associated with excessive intoxication – dementia, seizures, liver disease and early death – have done little to deter users.

Not even confirmed reports by the Ministry of Health and government agencies such as the National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse that illicit brewers have been turning to embalming fluid used in mortuaries have cut the rate of abuse.

We as a family are looking forward to welcoming back our brother into society for the most challenging part of his journey to recovery.

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