Can You Overcome Genetics in Addiction?

Why are some people more likely to become addicted while others are not? Does this have to do with genetics? For years, scientists have discussed the biological link between genetics and their influence on addiction. Thanks to more recent genome sequencing techniques, there is more information to help shed light on the connection between genetics and addiction. Exploring these links will help better understand your relationship with addiction.

 Do Genetics Play A Role in Addiction?

Yes, to some extent, genetics influence how people use and develop a dependency on drugs and alcohol and how they respond to treatment. For example, one genome-wide association study finds that 30 percent of marijuana users develop a cannabis use disorder influenced by genetic factors. The study gives insight into how prevention measures and therapies can help those with cannabis use disorders. 

In another study, scientists estimate that genetic factors may account for around 40 percent of a person’s vulnerability to use drugs and alcohol. So statistically, a family history of addiction is associated with an increased risk of passing on genetic predisposition, depending on how closely these family members socialize with each other.

Should I Blame Genetics for My Addiction?

Another critical factor is what scientists call the “environmental factor.” It does not just include families but also schools and communities that provide a healthy social network for children and youth. To sum up, a person’s tendency for addiction is associated with genetics and the social environment. In general, harmful environmental factors may include the following:

  • Parental encouragement of drinking or availability of alcohol at an early age
  • History of abuse and children’s witnessing of violence within the family
  • Under-socialization or emotional isolation since an early age
  • Mental health problems within the family
  • Lack of mental health support in the school and community system

Despite this scientific research, it would be counterproductive (from a treatment perspective) to conclude that addiction is genetic. The statistical association does not equal how family dynamics play out in real life.

Do I Have A Chance for Recovery?

In short, of course, you have the chance for a successful recovery. The value of this research lies in the unveiling of risk factors. Therefore, if you grew up in a home where the above negative influences were present, then that could explain a big part of how you later became addicted. This knowledge can help you gain awareness and self-compassion. Once you have this knowledge, there are two ways of thinking that you should avoid. 

  • Avoid blaming genetics or environmental factors for your addiction. Addiction is complex, and various factors can contribute to your addiction. 
  • The other is to avoid sliding into a kind of fatalism. Such thinking might make you believe that you won’t have a chance to succeed in recovery. 

Both are distorted understandings.

How Do I Escape A Sense of Fatalism?

A helpful way to wrap your mind around this is to understand that “susceptibility does not mean inevitability.” Each person inherits something from their parents, such as personality traits. Such traits might influence your susceptibility to use substances. However, you still need to be responsible for your actions. The same logic applies to addiction. Yes, maybe the odds of becoming addicted are higher, but that does not mean you should quit trying. 

This awareness of how genetic and environmental factors related to addiction can help you navigate life after addiction. If a trauma or abuse-related addiction is a generational trauma or dysfunction, you would want this vicious cycle to stop with you. If you have children, you would undoubtedly want to model a different lifestyle for them. Your positive role is also important in your extended family and community.

How Can This Knowledge Motivate Me?

Knowing that you might be more prone to addiction, you then need more determination and commitment to manage your impulses to use. It is not an impossible task. Seeking professional care can help you analyze all aspects of addiction, including genetics. It can also help you rebuild a support system for recovery. Here are some protective factors you can build into your lifestyle and family structures:

  • Model good self-control in front of children
  • Parental monitoring and support, including not exposing children to the use of substances
  • Anti-substance policies within the family
  • Polling school and community resources for addiction prevention, such as the 12-Step support group

Addiction is a complex and multi-layered disease of the brain. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states, “No single gene determines whether you will develop a problem with substance use. Many genes influence your risk for developing alcoholism, each of which only has a small impact.” The genetic impact may vary during one person’s life span. So addiction treatment should also vary to meet your needs.

 Do you ever wonder how genetics might affect your tendency for substance use and recovery? If you suspect that you or your loved ones have a genetic predisposition to addiction, then it is time to seek help today. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we understand the complexities of addiction and can help you identify any risk factors. Suppose you are a parent recovering from addiction. In that case, we can help you and your family address your addiction so that you and your family can understand addiction and better prepare to handle the difficulties and challenges that influence addiction. At Laguna Shore Recovery, we want to help you understand how to implement positive and long-term effective measures against addiction. These include our 12-Step group, mental health diagnosis, experiential therapy, and medical treatment plans. We help clients with tailor-made actionable strategies. Find out more and call Laguna shores Recovery today at (866) 906-3203.