Your family tree might be a telltale sign of Addiction Genetics.
There isn't one single 'addiction gene' that geneticists can pinpoint.
You may have noticed that alcoholism and other types of substance abuse problems seem to repeat themselves in certain families, but does this pattern indicate that children watch and learn from their parents or that addiction is genetic?
According to national studies on addiction, children who have alcoholic parents are 8 times more likely to become alcoholics than children of parents without the disease. Statistics like these make it obvious that some genetic component is involved but it can be hard to tell how much of the pattern is genetic and how much is learned behavior within the family environment.
Certain diseases and disorders that come pre-packaged in our genetics.There isn’t one single “addiction gene” that geneticists can pinpoint. In fact, many genes come together to interact in order for someone to inherit an addictive disposition. Since multiple genes contribute to addiction alongside social and environmental factors, it can be difficult to determine exactly why one person becomes an addict and another person does not. Some factors cancel one another out while other work together to create more prominent vulnerabilities. However, once a predisposition to addiction is detected, it’s often too late and the person is already under the spell of addiction.
Nurture vs Nature
Certain diseases and disorders that come pre-packaged in our genetics.
The argument still rages in the halls of science and medicine as to the exact relationship between a person’s inherited genetic code and the social or environmental stimuli they receive during life. Are we born as blank slates or do we come pre-programmed with certain karma? These are tough questions to wrestle with but the general consensus is that we’re a mix of both. About half of addiction is about the genetics you got from mom and dad. So if addiction runs through your family history like a pattern in Grandma’s patch quilts, you come pre-packaged with addiction risks.
Of course, not everything about us is subject to the rule of genes. The environment in which you are raised and currently live has a lot to do with the choices you make. We are fairly responsive decision-makers as people and if your surroundings lend themselves to picking up an addictive habit, your chances for addiction increase. Some common environmental factors that lead to addiction include:
- Watching a family member or role model engage in drug or alcohol abuse
- Unrestricted access to drugs or alcohol at home or with friends
- A generally permissive attitude toward drugs and alcohol at home or in your community
- Developmental or behavioral problems
While our upbringing and our genes can account for why some people are more susceptible to addiction than others, it’s certainly not the whole story. You are never a slave to circumstance and, in the end, it all comes down to the choices we make as individuals.
" "I grew up watching my dad get tanked every night after work. It was his ritual or something. When I got old enough it was just natural to see what all the fuss was about. Over time I developed the same alcoholism that I watched him deal with my whole life. I was angry at him then and now I was angry at myself for being just like him. We don’t even notice when we fall into a family pattern like that but once I realized what I had become, I knew it was time to change thigns."
- Brent (24), recovering alcoholic
Rising Above Heredity
Mom and Dad may have set you up with some genetic code that likes to party and has a hard time controlling it but the only person responsible for the decisions made in your life is you. Certain diseases and disorders that come pre-packaged in our genetics are nearly impossible to avoid, like Parkinson’s Disease or Cystic Fibrosis. But with addiction or alcoholism, this inheritance only makes you more or less likely to develop a chronic addiction. You can still choose to abstain or to get help if you have already developed a problem.
One of the hardest parts of changing the pattern of abuse or addiction in your family is the lack of support from the other addicts around you. Sometimes a family will just accept it as the “family curse.” But that’s an easy out. The real issue at hand is that you, as an individual, have the power in each moment to steer the course of your life in a different direction. If you know you are susceptible to addiction, avoid developing habits or tastes for addictive substances. If you find yourself in the spiral of addiction already, now is the time to change the pattern in your family and seek professional help for addiction recovery.
HEREDITY isn’t something we can control. But we can control our direction moving forward. We can control the choices we make in life.