Children of Addicts are Predisposed to Addictive Behavior
It’s well known and generally accepted that those if your parents had addiction problems, you’re more likely to develop those same patterns. This seems obvious when you consider how many grow up watching mom and/or dad drinking heavily or abusing drugs. But the environment isn’t the only factor in the hereditary nature of alcoholism and other drug abuse.
A study carried out by the University of Texas Health Science Center found that children with a family history of substance abuse had a harder time controlling their impulses. It’s more than just behavioral study we’re talking about here. These kids had visible impairments in the part of the brain specific to controlling impulsivity and judgment. These kinds of forebrain damage and dysfunction are common among substance abusers but the studies are now showing that this change to the white matter of the brain actually gets passed down to the next generation.
It turns out that our genes can actually be altered slightly in one life cycle to create fluctuations in the next generation. Much the way parents can pass on fears they learned or developed in life to their children, we can also set our own children up for a life of addiction if we develop substance addictions during our lifetime. If that’s not a wakeup call to those of us with children, what is?
Aside from raising the alarm about the responsibility we have over the next generation’s genes based on our own behavior, it also puts some things in perspective for addicts in recovery. Your own genes may have set you up for addiction and continue to force you into relapse. That doesn’t mean you’re a slave to those genetic impulses, it just means that if your family has a history of alcoholism or substance abuse, you’ll have to work that much harder to stay sober.
If you’re struggling with sobriety, there is help available. Support groups and mentors exist in every city for recovering addicts and alcoholics. Find others who understand the struggle. Leaning on one another is often the best way to weather a difficult storm.