Genetic and Environmental Interplay in Risky Drinking in Adolescents: A Literature Review

Aims: The aim of the study was to review recent research on the interplay between genes, environment and epigenetic factors in risky drinking in adolescents and the impact of neurobiological determinants on early alcohol-related cognitive deficits in young people. Methods: Narrative review. Results: There is consensus that the brain and the behaviour are shaped during development by the combined effects of genes, childhood experiences, environment and hormonal variations. Epigenetic factors seem to play a role in linking the expression of genes with stress and external experiences during brain maturation and development. Evidence on the interaction between genes and environmental factors illustrates that, in adolescence, external factors play a more important role than genetic factors on the risk of developing alcohol problems later on in life. Conclusions: Adolescence is a crucial stage of brain development; intervening early and applying certain prevention programmes may halt the progression of alcohol misuse.