Does My Genetic Inheritance Guarantee Alcoholism?

A former drunk becomes an advice columnist and advises one of his readers on drinking, love, and genetic determinism.

genetic-dromlomgIn my drinking days, I invented The 5 Martini Diet – pass out before dinner. Sober now for over 20 years, there’s nevertheless one good thing I can say about booze. It led me to a job—I write a weekly column, “Addictions & Answers” in my local newspaper. So as a publicly self-confessed drunk, I’m used to people drawing me aside for talks they’d be embarrassed to have with their doctor.

“Bill, my father died of cirrhosis at fifty seven,” 27-year-old Louise recently told me; we’d just met at a neighbor’s barbecue cookout. “My mother brought me up to believe that my life would be ruined if I ever touched a drop.”

Two weeks before – she went on – one of her friends had set her up on a blind date. “I was so nervous, I threw up getting dressed. But when I met Tommy” – she gestured toward a handsome young guy watching us from the other side of the yard – “it was in a bar. ‘Glad to see you,’ he said, and ordered drinks for us both. Bill, I guess I’m okay looking but not the soft, warm kind of woman that men take to. Usually I feel like a spaceship dropped me on the planet Earth and I have to pretend to be one of the natives. From the first drink, for the first time in my life I felt what the rest of you call normal.

“I had fun, it was fun for Tommy to be around me, it was an evening I’ll never forget. When I think of my future, this may sound awful, but I see myself drinking the weeks and months and years away with Tommy.

“I once read you saying in your column that if a martini or two leads someone to having a good time…if she hasn’t lost a job, broken up a marriage, none of that…you congratulate them and say go on their merry way, they need no advice from you. But maybe something in me doesn’t quite believe it can be all that easy.” Read more…

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