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How Genetics Can Contribute To Problematic Drinking

Dillon McClernon

Authored by Dillon McClernon

How Genetics Affects Substance Abuse, from Our Addiction Recovery Center Professionals

Addiction is a complex disease that develops due to a combination of environmental, psychological, familial, and sociocultural factors. Some substance users may be more prone to developing an addiction based on family history. Understanding the genetics of addiction is one way to identify factors that contribute to addiction. Additionally, understanding how genetics influence addiction may provide awareness about family dynamics that need to be addressed as your loved one seeks help from an addiction recovery center.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “genes are responsible for about half the risk for alcoholism and addiction.” The presence of a genetic predisposition therefore greatly increases chances for developing addiction. Although addiction may be an uncomfortable topic for your family, addressing addictive behavior that runs in the family may contribute to your loved one’s recovery. Furthermore, initiating conversation about addiction may contribute to greater awareness and reduced stigma. Your loved one should experience an addiction recovery center as a positive event that can be talked about beyond the confines of treatment without fear of shame or embarrassment.

Outlining The Genetics Of Addiction

As you consider your loved one’s addiction, it may be helpful to develop a broader understanding of how genetics and addiction influence one another. Below, we’ve outlined facts that directly correspond to addiction and family history.

  • Research performed on twins and adopted children indicates a genetic predisposition for substance dependence.
  • Professionals have identified some genes that influence addiction, but there is no specific “addiction” gene.
  • Numerous genetic and biological factors contribute to addiction.
  • Alcohol and drug addiction permanently rewires the brain.
  • Repeated substance abuse can lead to an increased chance for developing addiction.
  • Family history of addiction predisposes individuals to associate pleasure with certain substances.
  • Familial and environmental factors heavily influence early use of nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana.
  • Genetic factors that contribute to substance use reach capacity by mid-adulthood.
  • Increasing awareness about genetic factors can lead to individualized treatment, including prevention measures.

While it may not the sole determining factor of drug or alcohol dependency, you should consider family history, alongside other environmental and sociocultural influences. Addiction and family history do not predict a lifetime of addiction, and there is treatment for those in need. Recovery Centers of America provides comprehensive addiction treatment using the latest evidence-based care available. For more information about treatment options at our addiction recovery center, call 1-800-RECOVERY.

Authored by

Dillon McClernon

Dillon McClernon

Dillon currently serves as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at RCA. After his tenure as Chief Communications Officer and senior advisor to RCA, he opted for a full-time position at RCA where he could build a new team linking sales and marketing to directly impact RCA’s mission of saving 1 million lives.


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