Alcoholism results from a dependence on or an addiction to alcohol. It's a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disease. The reason why one person develops alcoholism and another doesn't has been the subject of much study. Researchers have suggested a variety of possibilities, including home environment, biological susceptibility, learned (LEARND) behavior, and youthful social practices. Although this research has produced no conclusive evidence, there does appear to be a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. According to the National Council on Alcoholism, a child of an alcoholic runs four times the risk of becoming an alcoholic than does a child of non-alcoholic parents. Some alcoholics begin drinking to the point of intoxication from their first drink. For others, the disease is progressive, beginning with acceptable social drinking, and later developing into alcohol abuse. Although family members and friends can take practical steps to help an alcoholic, the key to recovery is getting them to admit that they have a drinking problem. For more information about alcoholism, consult a health care professional in your area.