Alcoholism - nature or nurture?

Essay by kazzea March 2004

download word file, 11 pages 4.0

Downloaded 342 times

The nature nurture debate is one of the most enduring in the field of psychology. Nature is innate behaviour that has been evolved over many generations, under the influence of natural selection. The behaviour is adapted to our way of life and is shown by all members of the human species. Nurture is learned behaviour that is learned by the individual throughout his/her life. There is often great variation amongst people as it depends on the environment and experiences of the individual. In previous decades the two opposing views were that behaviour was determined by either nature or nurture. Nowadays the essence of the debate is: what is the ratio of genetic to environmental influences in understanding the source and expression of various biological and behavioural characteristics? The relevance of this debate to psychology in the study of alcohol addiction is that many researchers feel that alcoholism is hereditary and that if parents are alcoholic, their children may be more likely to develop into alcoholics than others.

However, others feel that genetics may play a small part in the development of alcoholism, yet the environment plays a larger part in helping to shape the individual's alcoholic behaviour. It is now a more commonly held belief that neither nature nor nurture is solely responsible for our behaviour; rather it is an interaction of the two.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disorder with both genetic and environmental roots. It is a compulsion that drives an individual to continue to behave in a way that is harmful to self and loved ones, despite an intense desire to halt that behaviour. It is a disease of 'more' - an active addict needs an increasing amount of substance to get high and is unable to cease usage without painful withdrawal symptoms. This...