Alcohol drinking is highly prevalent in many cultures and contributes to the global burden of disease. In fact, it was shown that alcohol constitutes 3.2% of all worldwide deaths in the year 2006 and is linked to more than 60 diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis, neuropsychiatric disorders, injuries and foetal alcohol syndrome. Alcoholism, which has been proven to have a high genetic load, is one potentially fatal consequence of chronic heavy alcohol consumption, and may be regarded as one of the most prevalent neuropsychiatric diseases afflicting our society today. The aim of the integrated genome research network ‘Genetics of Alcohol Addiction’—which is a German inter-/trans-disciplinary life science consortium consisting of molecular biologists, behavioural pharmacologists, system biologists with mathematicians, human geneticists and clinicians—is to better understand the genetics of alcohol addiction by identifying and validating candidate genes and molecular networks involved in the aetiology of this pathology. For comparison, addictive behaviour to other drugs of abuse (e.g. cocaine) is studied as well. Here, we present an overview of our research consortium, the current state of the art on genetic research in the alcohol field, and list finally several of our recently published research highlights. As a result of our scientific efforts, better insights into the molecular and physiological processes underlying addictive behaviour will be obtained, new targets and target networks in the addicted brain will be defined, and subsequently, novel and individualized treatment strategies for our patients will be delivered.