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Family Genetics and Addiction

The factors and causes behind addiction have been under constant research for a multitude of years.  There have been several discoveries and realizations as far as the specific factors that influence and bring it about.  One factor that has been shown to play quite a large role in the development of addiction is genetics.  It has been displayed that genetics can be a large indicator of how likely a person is to fall into addiction.

How Genetics Increase the Risk of Addiction

Genetics are of course not the only influential factor in developing an addiction, as it can also involve personal choice, psychological and familial standings as well.  But research has shown that genetics can be involved in about 50% of the risk of addiction.  As stated above, this is not the only source of addiction, but the presence of these types of genes can increase the likelihood that a person falls into addiction.

There can be both internal and external factors that contribute to genetic conditions.  Take high blood pressure as an example, as a person can have genetic predisposal to this condition, but it can also be influenced and brought about by things such as diet, and stress.  There are diseases that can solely be the result of genes, such as sickle cell anemia, but addiction is much more complex and involves variations in several genes.

Addiction “Runs in the Family”

There have been numerous reports and studies about addiction running in the family, as well as countless cases of individuals falling into addiction after being born into a family of addicts.  Though no particular “addiction gene” has been identified, there have been various genes and biological factors identified that can predispose someone to addiction.  Technically, all of humanity has some sort of tendency toward addiction.  This is mostly due to more of a survival factor and evolutionary advantage.  In nature, when an animal finds a type of food that they enjoy, they will continue to seek that food. Of course, humans are much more complex creatures, and some tend more toward addiction than others.  There can be cases of people falling into addiction very quickly, whereas, with others, it can take years to develop.

How Substances Affect the Brain

As a person continues to use drugs or alcohol, these substances begin to produce lasting effects.  Continued substance use and abuse begin to rewrite the brain.  Whether born with a high or low genetic predisposal, a person can still end up developing an addiction.  As a person continues to use repeatedly, the rewiring associated with the substance can strengthen, which can cause further pursuit and tendency toward addiction.

Though, the reality is that just because a person has a genetic history or predisposition to addiction does not mean that they are guaranteed to become an addict.  Yes, it can increase the chances, but it in no way seals their fate.  In the end, a person still has the ability to choose whether to begin to use substances, as well as whether to be aware of or ignore their potential predisposition.  There are a massive number of individuals who have been born into a family history of addiction, and yet do not fall into it themselves.  As mentioned above, it can influence or increase the chance of addiction, but it is not a guaranteed ailment.

It can serve a purpose to be aware of this potential factor.  For those who do choose to use substances, it can be helpful for them to be aware of their genetics so that they can be temperate and know when to stop.  This can also help them to better know when they need treatment if it does go too far.  They can recognize or be more aware of any signs of addiction within themselves, which can allow them to seek help to cease using quickly before it becomes too severe.

Seeking Help For A Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Addiction can be an extremely tough condition to struggle with.  It can completely destroy a person’s life in a multitude of ways, but fortunately, there are options for struggling individuals to be able to overcome their addiction.  There are treatment centers all across the nation to help people break free of the chains of addiction.  With many treatment centers out there, it can be difficult to know which one to choose, but we can assist with that.  Our staff are familiar with the various treatment centers around the country and can help explain the different options to you or your loved one.  Take the first step toward sobriety and give us a call today.

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