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Your Appalling Drunken Behavior Might Be Genetic

Charming! Photo: BUCK Studio/Corbis

Everyone has at least one friend who goes from zero to belligerent with remarkable speed. Hey, maybe you are that friend! Finnish researchers think they may have identified a gene mutation “which renders carriers susceptible to particularly impulsive and reckless behavior when drunk.”

Previous research had identified a variation of the serotonin 2B receptor gene, HTR2B, which is thought to be linked to impulsivity. So experts at the University of Helsinki Psychiatry Clinic, in cooperation with the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, wanted to see if people with the mutation behaved differently when drinking.

For a study published the journal Translational Psychiatry, 170 people (including 14 with the mutation) self-reported on their drinking habits, personality traits, and aggression and impulsiveness both sober and when drinking. So it’s not like they took test subjects, gave them a bunch of shots, and waited to see what happened — though surely that would have been fun — but everyone did undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The researchers found that people with the mutation were more likely to be “that friend” when drinking, get arrested for driving under the influence, and, per the shrink, have symptoms of mood disorders. They’ll need to study larger sample sizes, but until the link is confirmed or denied, you can tell people that you didn’t mean to be a dick on Thanksgiving Eve, but you can’t help it — you think it’s in your genes.

Your Appalling Drunken Behavior Might Be Genetic