JVM: Dad Was a High-Functioning Alcoholic

By Jane Velez-Mitchell 06/20/12

The HLN host gives exclusive answers to Fix readers' questions about rehab, troubled actor Nick Stahl, first-anniversary doubts, and whether or not addiction is genetic.

Jane Velez-Mitchell: Nature or nurture? Photo via

A couple of weeks ago, we asked Fix readers to email questions for our new video columnist—and you flooded her inbox. This week, the recovering alcoholic, addiction advocate and host of HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell picks out three questions—including the role of rehab in the wake of reports that actor Nick Stahl checked out of a treatment center against doctors' advice, and how to deal with lingering doubts that you're an addict after one year of sobriety.

But first up, Velez-Mitchell gives a thoughtful and personal view on a much-debated issue: Is addiction inherited, or is it a personal choice? It's complicated, she admits. But her own story convinces her that part of the answer does lie in our genes: "On one side of my family, there is a lot of alcoholism—and my dad, who has passed away, was a high-functioning alcoholic, you might say." Then again, environmental factors count, too: "When you grow up with an alcoholic and you see them drinking every night, you regard that as normal...so I didn't realize that people didn't have three or four martinis every night!"

Jane Velez-Mitchell's most recent book, Addict Nation, was released in February 2011. She's now exclusively answering your questions about addiction, recovery and the like. Send your questions to [email protected].

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Jane Velez-Mitchell is a television and social media journalist and author. She is the founder of JaneUnChained, a digital news network for animal rights and the vegan lifestyle. You can find Jane on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.