Although, Extra Mile Recovery is a good place to start your recovery journey. It is important to understand that addiction may have a genetic component affects your risk of addiction, and growing up in a home where substance abuse is prevalent also makes you more susceptible to the disease. However, your family background shouldn’t mean that you’re doomed to spend your life battling the condition. This article examines the role of genetics in the development of addiction and discusses how to break the cycle.
Many diseases run in families, and addiction is one of these conditions. It’s not unusual to see three or more generations ravaged by the disease. If you have family members who struggle with substance abuse, there’s a greater chance that you may be at a greater risk of addiction and develop similar problems with alcohol or drugs.
Risk of Addiction Across Generations
Generational addiction is more common than you might realize. According to one study, about 80 million Americans either has a spouse with alcoholism, a family member with alcoholism, or grew up with alcoholic parents (1.)
Research consistently shows that children who have at least one parent with a substance use disorder are four times more likely to develop a substance abuse problem themselves. These children might feel shame or embarrassment about their situation, and they’re often reluctant to seek help. Without some type of intervention to stop the cycle, it’s no surprise that addiction often spans multiple generations in a family.
The Role of Genetics
Genetics play an important role in the development of drug or alcohol addiction; in fact, research shows that about 40 to 60 percent of an individual’s susceptibility to addiction is related to hereditary factors(2). The other 50 percent is due to poor coping skills, such as dealing with stress or uncomfortable emotions. Although a person’s genetic makeup can certainly increase the risk of addiction, environmental factors also play a part. Growing up in a household where substance abuse was occurring can influence your attitude toward drugs or alcohol, and an unstable childhood environment can also increase your risk for addiction (3.)
The children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction. One study looked at 231 people who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction, and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Then it looked at the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of those people. It discovered that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an 8 times greater chance of developing an addiction.(3) Your genes are not your destiny. The 50% of addiction that is caused by poor coping skills is where you can make a difference. Lots of people have come from addicted families but managed to overcome their family history and live happy lives. You can use this opportunity to change your life. (Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)
What Is Your Family History?
Most people don’t know their family history of addiction very well. Most families don’t talk about addiction. Not too long ago you could have a raging alcoholic in your family and nobody would talk about it. Or they would make some quaint remark like, “Oh he drinks a little too much.” There was so little people could do about addiction before that there was no point in talking about it.
But now that you can do something about addiction, a family history is worth talking about. Once you stop using and tell your family that you’re in recovery, that’s often when they will tell you about the family secrets. That’s when family members will sometimes come out of the closet and tell you their stories.
Let your coping skills be the legacy you pass on to your children. Don’t let your genes be the only legacy you pass on to your children. Your children are more likely to have an addiction because of your addiction. But their genes don’t have to be their destiny. You can help your children lead happy lives by teaching them healthy coping skills – by being an example with your recovery.
Is Addiction a Disease?
Addiction is like most major diseases. Consider heart disease, the leading cause of death in the developed world. It’s partly due to genes and partly due to poor life style choices such as bad diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. The same is true for other common diseases like adult-onset diabetes. Many forms of cancers are due to a combination of genes and life style. But if your doctor said that you had diabetes or heart disease, you wouldn’t think you were bad person. You would think, “What can I do to overcome this disease?” That is how you should approach addiction.
Addiction is not a weakness. The fact that addiction crosses all socio-economic boundaries confirms that addiction is a disease. People who don’t know about addiction will tell you that you just need to be stronger to control your use. But if that was true then only unsuccessful people or unmotivated people would have an addiction, and yet 10% of high-functioning executives have an addiction.
If you think of addiction as a weakness, you’ll paint yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of. You’ll focus on being stronger and trying to control your use, instead of treating addiction like a disease and focusing on stopping your use.
You can become addicted to any drug, if you have a family history of addiction. If at least one of your family members is addicted to alcohol, you have a greater chance of developing an addiction to any other drug such as opioids, cocaine or marijuana. Cross addiction occurs because all addictions work in the same part of the brain. If your brain is wired so that you’re predisposed to one addiction, then you’re predisposed to all addictions.
This is especially important for women who may come from alcoholic families, but who often develop addictions that go undetected, like addictions to tranquilizers, pain relievers, or eating disorders.
One addiction can lead to other addictions, and one drug can make you relapse on another drug. That’s one of the consequences of a brain that’s wired for addiction. Suppose you’re addicted to cocaine. If you want to stop using cocaine then you have to stop using all addictive drugs including alcohol and marijuana. You may never have had a problem with either of them, but if you continue to use alcohol or marijuana, even casually, they’ll eventually lead you back to your drug of choice. Recovery requires total abstinence.
How Does Cross Addiction Cause Relapse
All addictions work in the same part of the brain. Addiction is addiction is addiction. Therefore one drug can lead you back to any other drug.
Even moderate drinking or smoking marijuana lowers your inhibitions, which makes it harder for you to make the right choices.
If you stop using your drug of choice but continue to use alcohol or marijuana, you’re saying that you don’t want to learn new coping skills and that you don’t want to change your life. You’re saying that you want to continue to rely on drugs or alcohol to escape, relax, and reward yourself. But if you don’t learn those new skills, then you won’t have changed, and your addiction will catch up with you all over again.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Addiction is no longer something that has to hidden or ashamed of. There is treatment and hope. Many people have reached for addiction treatment and have changed their lives. There are many addiction treatment options including self-help groups and out-patient or in-patient addiction rehab.
You have already taken the first step towards addiction treatment. You have asked the question, “Do I have an addiction?” Take the next step and change your life. Ask for help, learn addiction recovery skills, develop relapse prevention skills so that you don’t have to continue to suffer.
Breaking the Cycle
Addiction may have a strong hereditary link, but it doesn’t have to be your destiny. If you believe you may have a genetic propensity toward addiction, it may be wise to avoid using these substance in any amount. For people who may already be struggling with substance abuse, treatment can help you break free of addiction and turn your life around. In rehab, you’ll learn about the nature of addiction, and you’ll explore the influence your family background had on your substance use disorder.
Both genetic and environmental factors fuel the cycle of addiction in families; if you have a parent or other close family member with a substance abuse problem, your risk of addiction may be higher. However, you don’t need to become another statistic. With the right treatment, you can overcome your family history and break the cycle of addiction.
If you’re looking for an Addiction Recovery Rehab in Mississippi, Extra Mile is the right place for you. Located only a few miles from Tupelo, MS, Extra Mile has an outpatient treatment program designed for each individual. Our licensed clinical services are customized and combined with 12 step immersion as well as other treatments to maximize the success for long term recovery.
Call (662)687-4610 to speak to an admissions representative today.
Thank You to These References:
Prescott, C. A., & Kendler, K. S., Genetic and environmental contributions to alcohol abuse and dependence in a population-based sample of male twins. Am J Psychiatry, 1999. 156(1): p. 34-40.
Enoch, M. A., & Goldman, D., The genetics of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Curr Psychiatry Rep, 2001. 3(2): p. 144-51.
Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998. 55(11): p. 973-9.