Alcohol Study: Genetics Causing Alcoholism?

There’s a drink in front of you. Do you drink it, or pass it by? It does not seem as though decisions pertaining to alcohol consumption should be so simple; it is widely known that environmental factors such as upbringing, variant levels of stress, and a number of other things can influence whether or not someone opts to drink. However, alcohol studies have shown, again and again, that while environmental factors may trigger the desire to drink, certain people are especially susceptible while others or not. This is why, repeatedly, people with a specific genetics in common will become alcoholics while others, even in the most stressful of times and through the worst of situations, will skip a shot.

One such similarity of genetics alcoholics share was revealed by a recent alcohol study conducted the Georgia State University department of psychology, while another investigated 1,000 prison inmates. In each alcohol study, an experiment measured the amount of alcohol which was consumed by groups of both men and women.

However, before either alcohol study even began, scientists hypothesizes that individuals with genetics dictating light eyes, or those with blue or gray eyes, would drink more than individuals with genetics dictating dark eyes, those with green or brown eyes. How could this hypothesis be even before either alcohol study was started? Because darker eyed individuals tend to be more sensitive to medication, scientists involved in the alcohol study thought that these individuals may also be more sensitive to alcohol and therefore drink less.

The results of each alcohol study matched that of the hypothesis; it was found that dark eyed individuals did in fact drink less alcohol than light eyed individuals. Light eyed individuals, requiring more alcohol to feel their effects, not only had to drink more to become intoxicated or buzzed, but established higher tolerances to alcohol because of the additional amounts necessary to become intoxicated each time they did drink. That’s right; how much you drink is reliant on your genetics. Think about that for a minute. Not only is a seemingly spontaneous or free willed recreational activity reliant upon your genetics, but the effect of these genetics is clearly visible to anyone who knows about eye-related alcohol trends and can see your face.

Alright, you may be thinking, those with light eyes may need more to become intoxicated, but why does that mean they would be more likely to become alcoholics?. This is a valid question. Personally, I have only encountered alcoholics who drank more because they seemed to have an issue with alcohol (or with life in general) and not the other way around. While each alcohol study did confirm a previous suspicion, alcoholics were unable to yet understand what exactly makes a light eyed individual an alcoholic.

One idea possibly explaining why light eyed individuals are more prone to become alcoholics than light eyed individuals is because they are genetically wired to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol. Because they must compensate for their genetics, which dictate eye color, they learn the habit of drinking more in general. In essence, light eyed individuals may actually condition themselves to drink more, because of their genetics. However, as it is, the reason for which those with genetics mandating more alcohol in order to become intoxicated actually become alcoholics is still unknown.


Basset, Jonathan, and James Dabbs Jr. “Eye Color Predicts Alcohol Use in Two Archival Samples.” 2001. Web. 12 May 2011.