Is Addiction Genetic?

Mar 1, 2016

Is Addiction GeneticAddiction is currently a mental disease that is growing and causing immense pain and suffering across America, as well as around the entire planet. But how does this disease spread so strongly? There are many factors that go into the spread of addiction, many of them being social, as well as a misunderstanding about how certain substances will affect you. However, many people have a burning question of whether or not addiction has anything to do with their genetic makeup, and whether the addiction of their parents and grandparents may be passed down to them. The answer, according to many studies, is a surprising yes…

Genetic factors of addiction

According to research done in Am J Psychiatry (1999) and Curr Psychiatry Rep (2001), the chances of developing an addiction can as can multiply by as much as a factor of 8, if their parents were addicts, due to hereditary factors that are passed down to the addict through their genetics. According to these studies, the cause of addiction in these individuals can be blamed, by about 50%, on the genetic makeup of a person. The other 50%, however, is due to other issues that have to do with social environments, coping skills, and so on. These genetic predispositions towards addiction aren’t relegated to any particular substance, either, and are universal across any type of addiction.

Ironically, there is an evolutionary reason for this

Many people what evolutionary benefit a gene that passes addiction down to offspring might have for our species. However, the ironic thing is that it makes sense, from a standpoint of humans thousands of years ago. Essentially, the pleasurable feeling that develops in our brains was originally designed for food and sex, which are both very important things for continuing our bloodlines. Many illicit substances, however, are able to replicate this feeling in our brains by a higher magnitude than initially intended. Those with the hereditary trait of addiction are hardwired to seek out those pleasurable elements, more.

You aren’t doomed to addiction if you have those genes

Just because a person possesses the particular genetic makeup that makes them more susceptible to addiction, it doesn’t mean that they are subjugated to a life of substance abuse. There are still many factors that go into a person’s life that will change how they cope with the things that happen around them. Most individuals who have hereditary traits of addiction don’t even flirt with it in their lives, and instead go on to have happy families with happy lives.