Medicine: DNA and The Desire to Drink

Researchers discover a gene at the root of alcoholism

For years, evidence has been accumulating that alcoholism is at least in part an inherited disease. Studies of children of alcoholics and "alcoholic" strains of lab animals have lessened the profound social stigma associated with the condition. But the 18 million admitted alcohol abusers in the U.S., from Kitty Dukakis to Darryl Strawberry, still struggle against the suspicion that people who drink excessively are weak, bad or both.

Now, for the first time, researchers say they have identified a gene that may play a role in causing alcoholism, strengthening the case that heavy drinking can be a physical disease over which...

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