Alcohol Addiction & Language Connected?

alcohol addictionResearch has shown that alcohol addiction is more common in those who learn to speak and read at earlier ages. As a writer for a blog on drug addiction and alcoholism, this might explain a lot.

There is a unique aspect to the study, conducted by the University of Helsinki in Finland, and that is the use of twins. Not only are the test subjects genetically identical, but being born at the same time also removes the variable of age favoritism that could lead one or the other child to resort (or not resort) to drinking at an earlier age. Also of note is the rather large sample of twins in the study—3,000 to be exact.

The study shows that the twin who learned to read or speak first was nearly twice as likely to drink alcohol more heavily than their sibling by the age of 18. Further, the more language-apt twin was also four times as likely to get drunk at least once a month than their sibling.

Despite what the evidence suggests, and the disparity in those findings, the researchers are quick to say that this (somehow) does not correlate to a greater likelihood of alcohol addiction.

That is exactly why the study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Instead, the researchers suggest that a supposedly higher level of intelligence increased the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior. Additionally, they noted that such intelligence levels make it more likely that the more linguistic child would be more able and likely to think of the consequences of their actions beforehand.

The researchers also suggested that a better grasp of language made the heavy drinkers more social, and therefore was more likely to put those individuals into environments in which there would be drinking. The research seems to support this, as the heavier drinkers also reported a greater number of friends than their more sober counterparts.

Obviously, a better grasp of language does not automatically mean more intelligence, just as more frequent social interaction does not automatically mean a greater number of friends. Our hunch is that the researchers felt they needed to throw the drunks a bone—a conciliation prize for breaking the news, “Hey, you may be good with words, but you’re also good at embarrassing yourself in a drunken mess.”

People through the ages have wondered why many of the great writers were alcoholics or drug addicts. This provides some veracity to the stereotype while also dispelling another—that of the brilliant recluse, shutting himself or herself off from the outside world to craft their masterpieces.

All of which is nonsense. Talent comes from both natural ability and practice, and practice trumps natural ability. It does not come from a bottle, a joint, or any other outside source. The bad news for aspiring alcoholic writers is that many (myself included at one point) would-be writers like the idea of having written something, but not actually doing the work. Hmm. Sound familiar? Wants the result…but doesn’t want to do the work…

Maybe there is a link between alcohol addiction and language after all.

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