Dick, D., Adkins, A., Kuo, S. (2016) Genetic influences on adolescent behavior. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. [Online PDF] Retrieved from https://blackboard.vcu.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_6195469_1&course_id=_141450_1
In this article, Dick and her colleagues discuss the correlation between genetics and adolescent behavior. More specifically, Dick and her colleagues highlight the important ways genetics can factor into adolescent risk taking behavior such as alcohol use. To do so, they used literature on twin studies. Before even reading the article, from the just the abstract alone I can assume that genetics do in fact play just as large of a role as the environment does (if not more) in how much an adolescent consumes alcohol. I would make this assumption mostly because of how much of an influence heredity genes can have on an individual. For instance, a child of a mother with a genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse is more likely to pass the same genes on to her child. The same goes for personality disorders and so on with biological parents and their offspring. As I predicted, the article states that “there is a steady increase in the relevance of genetic factors on alcohol use across adolescence, and a corresponding and sharp decrease in the relevance of common environmental influences.” (Dick, 2016) This makes sense because it is much easier to avoid the influences you face in your environment as opposed to what genetic factors reside inside your body. However, this does not mean that the environment has no effect on adolescent drinking. As mentioned in the article, “genetic influences on adolescent substance use are enhanced in the presence of substance-using friends, and in environments with lower parental monitoring.” (Dick, 2007) The main takeaway from this article is that genetics do play a major role in adolescent drinking, especially in the later stages when the act of drinking is less experimental and more of a regular habit (a time when the environment and parenting styles mean less).
Since a lot of this was not entirely new knowledge to me, the only question I still have is probably the same as Dick and her colleagues.
What specific genes influence drinking in adolescence? The article points out that it can be supported that genes have a huge effect on adolescent drinking, but because they were studying twin literature it would be nearly impossible to identify the specific genetic factors that cause these effects without conducting several in-depth experiments of their own.