HOW IS ADDICTION HEREDITARY?
According to News-Medical Life-Sciences and Medicine, genetics is the study of heredity.1 In short, your genes reveal a blueprint that can lead to anything from your eye and hair color to your height, weight, and yes, even your intelligence. But did you know genetics can also play a role in diseases, including addiction?
Addiction, like other illnesses, can base itself within a combination of one’s genetics and their lifestyle. For instance, a lifestyle predisposed to smoking, poor eating habits and a lack of exercise can increase one’s risk of heart disease, among other afflictions. The same can be said about drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, one study showed that children of addicts are eight times more likely to also become addicts.2
So, what can be done to lessen the genetic impact that could lead one to become an addict? Begin with knowing who you are as a person as well as your family history.
IT CAN START WITH YOUR FAMILY TIES
It’s easy for someone to say drug and alcohol addiction is a personal choice. But once biological, familial, and psychological aspects of one’s environment – especially their upbringing – is factored in, the odds can go against a person toward potentially becoming alcohol or drug dependent.
In this way it is important to first understand your family’s genetic history. If your father or mother, your grandparents, or even a more distant relative such as an aunt, uncle, or cousin have dependency issues there could exist a strong chance you might have the same dependency issue.
In a report issued3 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, genetics are responsible for a 50% risk that a person will become dependent on alcohol or drugs. The article goes onto state that while no specific gene has been shown as the root cause of a person’s substance abuse, all of us are nonetheless “hardwired” to search out what gives us pleasure, just in the way that animals are hardwired to seek out certain foods that give them pleasure.
The report further suggests that with repeated drug and alcohol use, the brain’s hardwiring strengthens to the point that it becomes permanent. This can initiate a sociocultural atmosphere in which drinking and drug use becomes a lifestyle. This can influence a person beyond their genetic history.
THEN THERE ARE OTHER INFLUENCES
While there is a genetic connection toward substance abuse, we mustn’t forget the other issues that can perpetuate drug and alcohol use such as environment, culture, and even economic status. These factors are around us every day, and must be looked at as challenges to overcome with healthy choices that go the opposite way of addiction.
You should remember: Addiction is neither a weakness nor an affliction to be ashamed of. Because addiction can affect every level of society as well as find its way to all ethnicities and genders, no one is socially or culturally immune to its influence.
On the other hand, just because a relative may have an addiction problem does not necessarily mean you have no choice but to fall victim to the same vice. If you have a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other family member with an addiction, use them as an example of who you won’t let yourself be, and with that, attempt to cope with and overcome life challenges in a healthy, non-addictive manner.
Many individuals have come from families where parents and children alike have not only wondered, but have come to believe addiction is genetic. And of those who know first-hand that addiction can be genetically linked, many have also triumphed over their hereditary history to live happy, dependence-free lives.
HOW CAN BLVD HELP
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.
- News Medical. Retrieved April 2016
- Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders.Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998. 55(11): p. 973-9.
NCADD. Family History and Genetics.