You’ve probably heard ‘addiction’ be called a family disease, but what does that actually mean? Is that just a metaphor or is there actually a genetic disposition passed on to children that make addiction more likely? Today we are exploring whether or not is addiction hereditary.
It’s an Important Question
The effects of active addiction are certainly not confined to the person abusing substances. In fact, many articles and blogs have been written regarding addiction affecting the family, workplace, and relationships. It even costs the United States billions of dollars a year in terms of lost productivity. However, it may affect individuals in a deeper more genetic way. The question of hereditary addiction is a debate that sparks many others as well. If addiction is hereditary, does that inherently make it a disease? Is this disease chronic, and how does it affect getting help?
Is addiction a disease? Since addiction affects almost all people in some way, this debate has moved outside of labs, and into the public square. Many people react to this question with their own emotions and biases, this can lead some to think that referring to addiction as a disease makes the individual less likely to get help, or more cynically, removes blame from the addict. Just the opposite can be true though since emotions like guilt, isolation, and negativity trigger individual’s drive to seek the blissful escape of drug use. Presenting a clear correct way to address their addiction could help individuals seek treatment.
As a label, it’s important to acknowledge that it has some value. We could say that ‘the opioid epidemic is a cancer ravaging our nation’. This statement has some value and may help us explain the opioid epidemic in ways the compare and contrast it to actual cancer. We are not, however claiming that the opioid epidemic is abnormal cells multiplying and destroying the tissue of bodies. There is the misconception that a disease must be a physical manifestation similar to something such as Alzheimer’s or influenza. A disease is instead characterized by a dysfunction in the structure of life that produces specific signs or symptoms. Contributing to the label of addiction is not just the genetic aspects of addiction but also the predictable ways it impacts those around the addict and how it can spread.
As a comparative sickness, consider heart disease. This is a disease that is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. You would not discriminate or disparage someone for having heart disease, you would instead immediately get them treated, and help them make healthier life decisions. The same is true of addiction. It is a process that is definitely impacted by our life decisions and choices (though not always). However, addiction is different in that, over time our brains are changed. The reward, motivation, and memory centers of our brain are changed by drug addiction. In this way, after the initial consumption, it is not always a conscious choice to use drugs, it is as if the individual was dealing with brain control. In fact, no one knows how intense the addiction qualities can be. Many individuals drink alcohol, but some have a higher potency to alcohol addiction than others.
The Link Between Addictions
Studies have shown that addiction is due to 50% of genetic predisposition and 50% poor coping skills. That statistic might be jarring but, furthermore, we all have it in our genes to be addicted. There is no “addiction gene” to be specific, but our gene makeup can make us more predisposed to addiction. The answer goes back, simply, to natural selection. If an organism eats a plentiful plant, it will survive better if it likes that plant. Thus, we are all predisposed to partake in things that make us feel good. That makes us tick. That makes our brains produce those chemicals that leave us with a feeling of pleasure, accomplishment, or relief. Thus, when we hear about “this substance that makes you feel good” or a plant that makes you feel happy, we are much more inclined to partake in the given substance. It is simple genetics. The problem is, some people’s genes are more inclined than others. We will discuss that in the following section, however, let’s talk right now about the other 50% that contributes to addiction, the poor coping skills. While addiction is a disease, and choices do not necessarily always lead to addiction, they can always seek recovery. Get help today, choose the other 50%, and do not let your genes control you. We at FHE Health are ready to go on the journey with you.
More Likely in Children?
A study conducted revealed that children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction. Said study observed 231 individuals who had an addiction, and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Following that, it looked at first degree relatives of the individuals and determined that addicts are 8 times as likely to produce addicted children. How can this happen? Is it a gene in the brain? Does it predispose children to be more likely, genetically? Not exclusively, but it is worth examining. We have not identified the quantifiable characteristic that is being passed on, we just know that addicts are more likely to be related to other addicts. The answer may lie in the other 50%. The poor coping skills. Children with parents who are addicts are statistically more likely to lead unhealthy personality lifestyles. Whether this is increased aggression, searching for emotional fulfillment constantly, or always seeking parental figures. These coping skills affect their future, and their possibility to become addicts. Additionally, if a mother is using while pregnant, there is an even greater chance that the child will become an addict. In addition to being more likely to become an addict, they are also at risk of many birth defects.
What To Do?
Know your family history. This is one of the best things that you can do in regard to addiction. Do not let the stigma of addiction control how you keep things in the dark. Ask your relatives, and know the truth about whether or not you are related to an addict. On top of this, live by the other 50%, seek therapy even if you are not struggling with an addiction. Develop healthy coping mechanisms, and live a life that is beneficial to yourself and the world around you. Finally, the most important thing you can do is to seek professional treatment. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, look below to find out how you can seek professional help from us at The Florida House Experience.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction, you do not only owe it to yourself but also those around you, to seek treatment. Addiction is a family disease, and it should be treated as such. We are always available to help you and get you the professional help you need. Should you have any questions, please reach out via our contact page. Along with this, we have a number, (844) 299-0618, you can call whenever to connect you with a specialist. Do not let the 50% of your genes define you. Develop positive coping mechanisms, and seek help. Take your life back today.