The cause of reckless and impulsive behavior through alcohol consumption lies in the mutation of a gene

We all have a friend or acquaintance who vsuan drinks alcohol gets out of control and shows impulsive and reckless behavior. A Finnish study suggests that these individuals cannot avoid it because they are genetically predisposed to react this way when consuming alcohol.

A genetic mutation found in 2.2% of the population appears to be the cause of this problematic behavior. The genetic mutation affects the serotonin receptor called 2B.

Still don’t know what serotonin is? In the article “Serotonin: discover the effects of this hormone on your body and your mind” we explain in detail.

2.2% of the population has this genetic mutation

Everyone has a different tolerance level for alcohol, but for some people, just drinking a small amount of this substance can act in a very disproportionate, impulsive, reckless, and dangerous manner.

Recent research has found a biological reason for this behavior, as a group of researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland claim that the cause is in a genetic mutation. In the country where this study was conducted, more than 100,000 people have this mutation.

Study confirms other research from 2010

The research was conducted by psychiatrist Roope Tikkanen, and concludes that the mutation in a gene linked to the serotonin receptor B2 causes impulsive behavior, especially when the carrier individual is drunk. Published by the Nature Publishing group in its journal Translational Psychiatry, the research results confirm a previous study by Bevilacqua and his team, conducted in 2010.

For Tikkanen’s study, however, the scientists used data from alcoholic patients and their families, compiled by Mattu Virkkunen, professor emeritus of forensic psychiatry at the same university. Additionally, research subjects completed personality questionnaires and were interviewed face-to-face by a psychiatrist.

The discovery originated in a cooperative relationship that has lasted for several years, between the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Helsinki and the Neurogenetics Laboratory of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the States. United, who directs Dr. David Goldman.

Not much is known about the 2B serotonin receptor.

Tikkanen explains: “There are people who change drastically when they consume alcohol and are unable to correct their behavior even if it repeats itself, which did not suggest to us that this phenomenon was due to biological factors. .

Very little is known about the serotonin receptor 2B in humans, but it is believed to be linked to impulsivity, which in turn is associated with different mental health issues. The identified mutation is present in 2.2% of the population, so more than 100,000 Finns are carriers.

“The impact of a gene on a complex phenomenon like this is difficult to observe. But it is possible to identify the impact of the genetic mutation on the Finnish population, because our historical isolation has led us to a reservation relatively homogeneous genetics. ” Tikkanen comments.


If these results are confirmed in larger samples of subjects who suffer from severe difficulties in controlling their impulsivity, various corrective actions can be taken. The most important and priority is the prevention of alcohol consumption by these people. Other measures could be cognitive behavioral therapy for impulse control or, ultimately, in pharmacological treatment.

Besides the effect it may have on the health of the population, the discovery of this biological mechanism may lead to further research on the role of the serotonergic 2B receptor in the human body. New research in the neurobiological field will certainly go in this direction. Outraged, the best knowledge about this receptor can stimulate innovation in the pharmacological world.

Finally, Tikkanen concludes: “The mutation can also predict impulsive violent behavior, because we found that the prevalence of the mutation is four times higher among a population of individuals classified as’ violent offenders. This may have implications for violence prevention and detention. the legal system in decision-making “.

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