The question of whether or not certain people are prone to addiction remains an often-asked one. There are arguments to be made that people are biologically and genetically prone to addiction, while some believe that addiction arises solely from one’s environment. Moreover, others wonder whether a person can be psychologically prone to addiction. Frankly, there is most likely some truth to all of these.
Some Causes: Are Some People More Prone to Addiction?
First and foremost, there is certainly a biological or genetic component of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Family studies that include identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings suggest that as much as half of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs depends on his or her genetic makeup.” Now, while this certainly brings some validity to the genetic aspect of addiction, it is far from conclusive.
Environmental factors can also play a role in the development of addiction. While ultimately it is difficult to quantify one’s environment as a cause of addiction, the overall studies regarding children raised in addiction-affected households and people who come from underserved areas show that specific environments can make individuals more vulnerable to substance use and addiction.
The final question to address is whether a person can be psychologically prone to addiction. This question is often rephrased as “Can someone have an addictive personality?” While that seems too much of a generalization, indeed, certain individuals who struggle with their psychological health are also much more likely to struggle with a co-occurring disorder such as substance use disorder (SUD).
Understanding That Addiction Is Not a Choice
All of the questions as to whether one is prone to addiction or not should also be framed by the fact that addiction is not a choice. People never initially use drugs or alcohol with the intention of becoming addicted. For some individuals who use drugs, addiction manifests, and for others, it doesn’t.
Now this doesn’t mean that those previously mentioned factors should not be taken into consideration. Of course, they should. However, it is also important to remember that addiction is a disease.
Understanding Addiction as a Disease
There is much consensus in the addiction recovery and clinical community that addiction is indeed a disease. In fact, it is a chronic disease. What this means is that, just like other diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, addiction will only get worse without intervention.
Also, addiction is a disease that affects individuals mentally, biologically, and, yes, psychologically. It can break down one’s psychological makeup by creating both negative emotions and, in turn, manifest dangerous behaviors. That is also why addiction recovery requires psychological change.
Experiencing a Psychological Change in Addiction Recovery
There is something often referred to in 12-Step recovery as a “psychic change.” Now, while this can be interpreted in many different ways, ultimately it means that to recover from addiction one must change their psychological selves.
This is not as far-fetched or as complex as it may sound. It just means that to recover, one must change the way they think and act. When this happens, it will change the way they feel. Also, when put this way, it’s hard to conceptualize a recovery that doesn’t require these changes. The good news is that, in healthy recovery, these are also healthy changes.
There is a section in the primary text of 12-Step recovery (most commonly referred to as “the Big Book”) that is titled, “The Doctor’s Opinion.” In it, one of the first physicians who supported 12-Step recovery, Dr. Silkworth states, “Strange as this may seem to those who do not understand – once a psychic change has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol.” This psychic change for many people is not literally “psychic” or spiritual; rather, it is psychological.
Prone to Addiction or Not, the Phoenix Recovery Center Can Help
Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we have seen people experience the psychological change that is often needed for long-term recovery. While we create an environment for this to happen and give the tools to make this occur, ultimately it is the individual who must take autonomy over their own recovery.
Also, while we too have engaged in the conversation about being prone to addiction, we have not had to engage in the conversation about who is prone to recover. That is because we know that anyone can recover with professional guidance and support. We are here to provide high-quality care to those who are willing to put in the work to establish lasting recovery in their lives.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and it only gets worse unless someone or something intervenes. This may be a loved one, a primary care doctor, or an addiction specialist. If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with issues of addiction, you are not alone. We can help. For more information on the potential to be prone to addiction, please call The Phoenix Recovery Center at (801) 438-3185.