Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and body. Like some other diseases, substance use disorder (SUD) or addiction sometimes runs in families, leading many to wonder if there’s a gene causing increased addiction.
Is Addiction Genetic?
Addiction affects people differently. This is because people respond differently to drugs and medication and some of these reactions are influenced by the person’s genes. For instance, a certain pill may work well for you but make your sibling or friend even more ill.
When it comes to addiction and genes, scientists have identified multiple genes associated with addiction, some of which are associated with addiction to specific substances. Since we get our genes from our parents, it makes sense that some of the genes responsible for diseases are genetic and hereditary. So your family history can offer clues on how vulnerable you can be to certain types of SUD.
Depending on your genetic makeup, you may be prone to using tobacco products, alcohol or certain drugs e.g. heroin, cocaine or opioids. This is especially true if a close member of your family also struggles with SUD or you have a family history of addiction.
Additional Risk Factors
However, it’s important to note that genetics is only one of the many factors that impact an individual’s risk of addiction. SUD is also influenced by environmental factors. Some of the environmental factors that play a major role in whether or not you get addicted to a substance include:
- Peer pressure
- Easy access to the substance
- Traumatic stress
We also need to stress that even though you may have a family history of addiction, you’re not fated to become addicted. All it means is that you’re more prone to addiction and should be extra cautious as far as the use of certain substances is concerned. Having genes that are linked to addiction only indicates that you’re predisposed to SUD but you’re not guaranteed to have it.
If you have a family history of SUD, you can reduce your risk by:
- Avoiding or limiting the use of alcohol, tobacco and other addictive substances.
- Talking to your doctor so they’re informed about your predispositions.
- Talking to a therapist e.g. attending a family therapy program as a family to better understand addiction, how to avoid it and how to support your loved ones struggling with it.
You Can Change Your Life
Battling an addiction doesn’t make you a failure. In fact, accepting that you have a problem and are willing to do something about it takes a lot of courage.
If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, we at the Robert Alexander Center for Recovery are ready to help. We offer high-quality, evidence-based alcohol and drug addiction treatment for residents of Kentucky and beyond. Our treatment programs include detoxification, intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment, all carried out by professional addiction treatment experts.
Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you find a path to long-term recovery and sobriety.