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The Genetics of Addiction

Addiction does not arise solely from nature or from nurture. Rather, it is often a combination of a variety of biological and environmental variables. Recent research into the genetics of addiction have found that a predisposition for alcoholism and addiction can be passed down just like other hereditary traits.

Having a genetic predisposition for addiction does not necessarily mean that one is doomed to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains the complex interplay between biology and environment: “studies suggest that an animal’s drug use can be affected by that of its cage mate, showing that some social influences can enhance risk or protection. In addition, exposure to drugs or stress in a person’s social or cultural environment can alter both gene expression and gene function, which, in some cases, may persist throughout a person’s life. Research also suggests that genes can play a part in how a person responds to his or her environment, placing some people at higher risk for disease than others.” Therefore, someone who may not necessarily have the hereditary trait of addiction can be placed in an environment that alters their genes in a way that makes them more susceptible to addiction.

There is not single “addiction gene” that causes a person to use substances. According to the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center, “Scientists will never find just one single addiction gene. Like most other diseases, addiction vulnerability is a very complex trait. Many factors determine the likelihood that someone will become an addict, including both inherited and environmental factors. Because addiction is a complex disease, finding addiction genes can be a tricky process. Multiple genes and environmental factors can add up to make an individual susceptible, or they may cancel each other out. Not every addict will carry the same gene, and not everyone who carries an addiction gene will exhibit the trait. However, multiple lines of research show that addiction is influenced by genes.” Addiction tends to run in families, but often it is because of both the inherited genetic trait working equally with an environment that may expose children to drugs at an earlier than normal age.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and discover a life of happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists, spiritual guides, and holistic experts to address the problem of addiction from every possible angle. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431