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The Genetics of Addiction

Addiction is called a family disease. There are certainly environmental factors that influence whether or not we develop addiction, but there are also specific genetic links that make us predisposed to addictive behavior. It’s important to recognize that addiction is not a moral flaw, but a disease influenced by a multitude of different factors.

Genes are the functional units of DNA that provide information directing the body’s basic cellular activities. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence explains that this predisposition for addiction originally began as an evolutionary advantage: “When an animal eats a certain food that it likes, there is an advantage to associating pleasure with that food so that the animal will look for that food in the future. In other words, the potential for addiction is hardwired into our brain.” There is, however, no one single “addiction gene”. The disease of addiction is complex and many different genetic components come together to form a predisposition to alcoholism and addiction. According to the Genetic Science Learning Center: “Because addiction has an inherited component, it often runs in families. That is, it can be passed down from parent to child by way of genes.” They studied the role of genetics in addiction by observing families of mice or fruit flies, then identified “the counterpart gene in humans by looking for similar DNA sequences.” These findings prove that alcoholism and drug dependence run in families, and can be passed down from parent to child in the same way as other diseases.  

If a person has the inherited genetic traits linked with addiction, it does not doom them to life of drug and alcohol abuse. There are many other environmental factors that play a major role in whether or not our predispositions turn into addiction or alcoholism. When other factors are treated and managed, it’s entirely possible to break the cycle of addiction and maintain sobriety. However, if we have the genetic component of addiction, we must develop safeguards to keep ourselves from being pulled back into substance abuse.

Resilient House offers you the help you need. Cultivating resilience for lasting wellness, our co-ed programs offered on a full continuum of care provide holistic and clinical expertise for recovery. Our 50,000 square foot facility in Shreveport provides the tranquility and serenity you need to heal your mind, body, and spirit. It’s time to live. Ready, set, go: 833-CHANGE1