Whether or not genetics do play an impactful role in addiction is something that countless people and medical professionals alike still go back and forth on to this day.
There’s no denying that some people are more prone to addiction than others, but could genetics really be the missing part of the equation?
It’s a common, but harmful, misconception that the tendency to develop an addiction is simply the result of an immature—young—brain or because of an untrained or weak willpower. In actuality, there are many different factors that influence someone to begin abusing drugs or alcohol, and even more factors that contribute to shifting that abuse into an addiction.
In this article, we’re going to break down any of the connections between genetics and addiction from a scientific perspective to get a clearer understanding of their relationship.
What causes an addiction?
There are many different factors that can lead to the development of substance addiction.
Some of the most common factors include:
- The environments you find yourself in on a regular basis
- The people you engage with, whether platonic, romantic, familial or professional
- The current state of your mental health, and if you’ve had any previous mental illnesses
- Any past or recent traumas that you’ve experienced
- Prior substance abuse or addiction, in yourself and your family members
While genetics have long been suspected to play a role in addiction, multiple studies in the last few decades have begun to increasingly affirm that genetics do indeed play a role in addiction.
Can addiction be genetic?
The short answer is, yes.
A slightly longer answer is, not always.
The full answer is that there are many different factors that can play a role in someone developing addiction, and for many people, genetics is one of them.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recently revealed that up to 50 percent of a person’s susceptibility to addiction can be directly related to their genetic makeup.
It’s very important to remember that genes alone do not cause an addiction, so just because you might have a family member who struggled with addiction, doesn’t mean you or anyone else in the family is doomed to develop an addiction.
In addition, it’s equally as important to remember that there is no “addiction gene” or genetic disposition that is always responsible for addiction.
There are different genes that will affect people differently and, depending on the gene, can actually interact differently with the substance itself, whether drugs or alcohol.
Different addictions and genetics
Studies have revealed that there are specific links between certain addictions and certain genes or genetic associations.
While there isn’t any distinct “alcoholism gene,” scientists have discovered there’s a selection of genetic variations in a large majority of those who developed an alcohol use disorder.
The risk of developing a drug addiction is also not chronically connected to any one genetic patter. Although, certain genes have been recognized to more deeply influence the brain’s response to dopamine, which often plays a role in addiction.
We know addiction and genetics can be an overwhelming topic to tackle, and that’s exactly why we’re here.
Contact us for additional support
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, we’re here to help. When there’s a history of substance abuse in your or their family, it’s completely valid to express concern over the potential impact your genes have played on the addiction.
We want to remind you that having a genetic predisposition to substance abuse does not mean you’re incapable of fighting and overcoming the addiction. Your genes do not control your life, and they are not responsible for your future.
At Silver Ridge, we offer a variety of different addiction recovery programs, all of which are customizable to your unique needs. We believe that the most effective treatment is the one that’s designed for you personally and has taken into account every aspect of your situation, family background and genetics included.