It has long been accepted that alcoholism is, at least in part, an inherited trait. 40-60% of your susceptibility to alcoholism is genetic. The remainder is environmental. One study I looked at estimated that 25% of children of alcoholics become alcoholics themselves.
In her fabulous memoir - Drinking, a Love Story - Caroline Knapp writes: Alcohol travels through families like water over a landscape, sometimes in torrents, sometimes in trickles, always shaping the ground it covers in inexorable ways....In some families alcohol washes across whole generations, a liquid plague.
We can fight against our genes (after all, three quarters of children of alcoholics don't follow that path), but there are traits and tendencies buried deep within our souls.
I was thinking about this as I was dreaming (again) about our holiday in the land of my fathers: Cornwall (leaving tomorrow!). Despite the fact that I've never lived there, the minute I see the harsh, yet stunning, landscape unfolding in front of me, I feel an overwhelming sense of coming home.
There's something about the rugged cliffs, windswept moors, multi-coloured heathers and rough seas that appeals, at a fundamental level, to my Celtic roots.
I am a classic Celt. Dark haired, blue eyed, pale skinned. Years ago, when men were trying to chat me up, they used to say that I looked like Elizabeth Taylor in her younger years (they were lying, obviously). Spookily, until recently, I rather resembled Liz in her later years - puffy, overweight alcoholic, going slowly crazy.
It's often said that the Celts (particularly the Irish) have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. I can't find a reliable study on this one but, spookily, there is a recent study showing that people with blue eyes (like the Celts) are significantly more likely to have alcohol problems.
Apparently, the genetic components that determine eye colour line up along genes related to excessive alcohol use. How weird is that? That's me, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton (Welsh - also a Celt) ....how many of you?
I worry about my blue eyed children and their mother with alcohol issues (still can't say the A word!).
I particularly worry about #2 who, at nine, is already horribly obsessed by sugar and Minecraft. He will happily spend hours (if he were allowed to) watching Stampy videos. (If you don't have children this age you will not have heard of Stampy. All I can say is "lucky you!")
But I remind myself that only half of alcoholism is genetic. The other 50% is environmental. And the environment that I'm creating now is one where alcohol is never drunk at home alone. It is a treat (for Mr SM, not for me, obviously), for special occasions.
Because no-one needs alcohol to be happy. Right kids?
Love SM x