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As our understanding of people and genetics has continued to expand, the question, “Is addiction genetic?” has been coming up more and more. Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple “yes” or “no.” While there are certainly genetic factors that can increase the risk of addiction, there are other factors to consider as well. In other words, simply having an addict in the family lineage does not automatically make one predisposed to addiction.

Understanding the Causes of Addiction

While genetics can be a contributing factor to addiction, there are also many others. According to Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, “As is the case with most other chronic illnesses, 40% to 70% of a person’s risk for developing a substance use disorder is genetic, but many environmental factors interact with a person’s genes to modify their risk, such as being raised in a home in which the parents or other relatives use alcohol or drugs or living in neighborhoods and going to schools with high prevalence of alcohol and drug misuse are also risk factors.”

There are also other risk factors for addiction, including being part of a vulnerable population, such as being a member of the BIPOC or LGBTQ+ community and being a combat veteran. It should also be noted that some people find themselves struggling with addiction without any of the major causes present. Furthermore, it is important to remember that addiction does not discriminate. Addiction can affect anyone who begins to misuse alcohol or substances. The only way around addiction is abstinence; which is up to individual choice.

Is Addiction Genetic?

As previously mentioned, the answer to, “Is addiction genetic?” is partly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects environmental factors have on a person’s gene expression, called epigenetics, account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction.”

Of course, these are pretty significant numbers. Additionally the genetic link to addiction is not specific to types of addiction. For example, it is believed that someone in a family lineage who struggled with alcohol addiction may influence the risk of any type of addiction for other family members. 

Moreover, as noted in Current Psychiatry Reports, “Some genetic factors may influence an overarching susceptibility to developing addiction; thus, their effects are shared across different drugs of abuse. In contrast, other genetic factors may underlie susceptibility to developing specific drug addictions.” It is important to remember that the science of genetics and addiction is constantly being updated and adjusted.

Stopping the Cycle of Addiction

The good news is that there are many ways that the cycle of genetic addiction can be disrupted. If there is a genetic component of addiction in a family lineage, the best way to avoid continued addiction is awareness and vigilance when it comes to alcohol and substances.

A much more apparent predictor of addiction is whether or not there is addiction directly in the home (generally with the parents of caretakers). When this factor is eliminated due to a greater awareness of genetic history, the cycle of addiction can quickly be broken and the chances of future generations struggling may go down significantly. 

Helping the Whole Family Heal at The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand the importance of helping the entire family heal, which is why we offer recovery plans that include everyone affected by the individual’s addiction. This includes family therapy, family counseling sessions, and access to family recovery communities that can share their experiences and create crucial connections.

While one may not be able to control their genetics, one can become better informed and make better decisions. This includes seeking recovery if addiction becomes an issue in the family. Recovery is about the journey, never the destination. That journey can become much more fulfilling when the entire family is along for the ride.Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about how genetics may influence addiction. While there is much evidence that now shows the connection between genetics and addiction, genetics are not the only contributing factor to addiction. There are also factors like home environment and social circles. Also, simply having an addiction in one’s family history does not automatically mean that they are in danger of becoming addicted themselves. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get on the positive path toward long-term recovery. For more information about the connection between genetics and addiction, reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT