Is Addiction Hereditary?
In short, yes.
One of the most common questions people ask about addiction is whether it’s genetic, is there an addiction gene? In other words, can someone inherit addictive behavior from their parents or grandparents? Studies say the answer is yes.
While genes can’t definitively predict whether or not a person will become addicted to something, researchers studying addiction genetics have found that about half of a person’s risk depends on their genes.
Keep reading to learn more about the link between genetics and addiction.
What We Know About Addiction from Studying Identical Twins
Over the years, researchers have performed numerous studies on families, trying to determine the biological and psychological roots of addictive behavior. All of their results point to the same conclusion: just like with any other disease, a person’s genetic makeup has a strong influence on whether they will develop alcoholism or another compulsive behavior.
The results are astonishing actually…
Studies conducted on identical twins have provided the most useful information to researchers. Identical twins share all of the same DNA, and repeated studies have found that if one twin is addicted to something, the other twin has a high risk of being addicted, too.
To prove this point even further,
Fraternal (or non-identical) twins of addicts, on the other hand, aren’t at such high risk, because they do not share all of the same DNA.
A Complex Issue
Genetics is a very deep and complex field of study, and researchers are still in the process of uncovering all its secrets. Though we don’t know yet exactly which genes are responsible for causing addictive behaviors, geneticists have uncovered numerous genes which may influence a person’s risk, researchers at the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center do a great job of going in depth about addiction genes.
The crazy thing is,
Some of these genes may actually cancel each other out and lower a person’s risk, while others may amplify each other.
As scientists learn more about how genetic makeup influences a person’s behavior, they may be able to develop personalized treatment plans for people with addictions.
Genes Aren’t Everything
While genes play a major role in whether a person becomes an addict or not, they aren’t the sole risk factor. Addiction is a complex disease of the brain, and no two cases are the same. It’s important to remember that although genes may make up half of a person’s risk, the other half comes from the person’s environment, lifestyle, and personal beliefs.
Anyone can become addicted if they abuse drugs or alcohol often enough to re-wire their brain, regardless of whether their genes put them at risk. Similarly, someone with high genetic susceptibility who abstains from using any addictive substances is unlikely to become an addict.
Researchers are still unraveling the mystery of which genes and other factors cause some people to become addicted. Though there are many things we still don’t know, one thing is clear: genes do play a major role in addictive behavior. This means it’s important for people to educate themselves about their family history and use potentially addictive substances carefully.
We’re here to help…
Whether treatment is for you, a family member or a friend, we are happy to speak with you about our outpatient drug treatment program, and how AOC can help patients with their opioid addiction recovery. Since 2007, AOC has helped thousands of patients on their path to recovery.