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The collective data on alcoholism as a genetically influenced family disorder is strong enough to justify a search for biological trait markers. To be of real value, such trait markers must be evident before the onset of alcoholism and remain measurable during abstinence. (Conversely, state markers are only observable during the state of an already established illness.)
Early studies designed to measure variability in personality and/or blood alcohol concentrations (BACs), after ingestion of alcohol, showed no significant defferences between sons of alcoholics (family history positives or FHPs) and sons of nonalcoholics (family history negative or FHNs). The author's work, therefore, focused on another factor that might influence the risk for alcoholism: the intensity of reaction to alcohol.
An increased tolerance for alcohol has been well documented in active alcoholics and occurs in tandem with a decreased intensity of …