Can Drug Addiction Be Genetic?

There is little argument that substance addiction is a serious illness capable of precipitating significantly adverse professional, social, financial, and even health consequences. That said, some argue the illness\’s primary origin. While many maintain the malady is inspired by environmental factors, others believe an individual\’s genetic makeup also bears significant importance.

Genetics Overview

Genetics are an individual\’s developmental blueprint. Microscopic internal structures called genes determine just about every aspect of one\’s physical and systemic makeup including traits like:

  • Eye and hair color
  • Skin tone
  • Height
  • Build

That said, a subject\’s genetic makeup, which is inherited from their parents and previous generations of familial ancestors, also exercises an appreciable influence over other more crucial concerns such as their health.

Many people know that genetics plays a major part in one\’s longevity. Many serious illnesses, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, immune disorders, and various other illnesses are correlated to genetic flaws.

The Possible Connection Between Dependency And Genetics

A discernible percentage of scientific researchers argue that drug addiction stems from genetic concerns. These medical professionals have and continue to examine the relationship between these two variables. Researchers suggest that certain hereditary flaws could result in faulty biological occurrences rendering afflicted subjects more susceptible to dependency.

For example, said scientists have established a link between specific proteins the body produces and chemical reliance. Genes engage in a process called sequencing. As this effort progresses, genetic material creates messages instructing the body how to execute certain actions.

In 2004, a team of scientists at Duke University identified the impact of the protein classified PSD-95. These researchers found that laboratory mice carrying diminished levels of the substance were more likely to become addicted to cocaine.

In that same year, researchers representing another institution were also able to establish the relationship between the protein DARPP-32 and chemical dependency. Investigators discovered that this substance played an critical part in rendering brain cells, which are scientifically referred to as neurotransmitters, more apt to respond to the influences of most addictive drugs.

The Environment\’s Role

Scientists are by no means dismissing the relationship between chemical dependency and environment.

In many cases, even in instances of increased genetic predisposition, a drug user\’s surrounding atmosphere will impact their progression to dependency. Common environmental factors include:

Living Arrangements

Individuals residing in a dangerous environment or with abusive or addictive personalities are thought to stand at greater risk of developing their own dependencies.

Life Stressors

A countless number of addictions were born as the result as a coping mechanism to appreciable life stressors. Future addicts might begin using drugs to lessen physical or emotional pain, distract their mind from stressful events or circumstances, or give in to peer pressure.


An emerging science is officially known as epigenetics. Researchers classify this as how functional changes in genetic makeup could lead to underlying illnesses like addiction.

Proponents of this philosophy argue that the actions prospective addicts take could actually alter their genes and create flaws capable of increasing the chances their offspring and other future generations of family could become substance abusers.

For example, the genetic material of a heavy alcohol user could eventually grow flawed, or in official scientific lingo, marked. Over time, marked material could lead to an increased systemic production of the previously mentioned addiction-supporting proteins.

Medical investigators also believe genetic alteration could be connected to biological features labeled histones. These structures provide an organizational base for genes. Research has found that chemical dependency has resulted in histone damage and discernible associated genetic alterations.

Should Family Members Of Addicts Think Personal Dependency Is Inevitable?

Scientists suggest that subjects with one or substance abusing family members are not necessarily preordained to experience such a fate. That said, such individuals are firmly urged to take such circumstances seriously and display added vigilance in trying to prevent said occurrences.

Addiction Prevention Methods

Granted, addiction is an illness and not all incidents can be prevented. However, a particularly at-risk subject might reduce their chances by partaking in endeavors such as:

Establishing Coping Methods

Those with potential genetic predispositions are implored to learn coping methods. Such undertakings include:

  • Conversing with support systems like sober family members or mental health professionals like counselors
  • Engaging in healthy, productive activities, like exercise, reading, or various artistic disciplines
  • Documenting one\’s emotions and feelings
  • Not letting stress build up to dangerous levels

Some might also find relief participating in efforts like breathing and relaxation techniques.

Practicing Self-Care

Self-care is critical to preventing addiction. Many people turn to drugs as a means of escape or to self-medicate on a physical or emotional basis. True self-care should involve a healthy but soothing outlet like participating in one\’s favorite activity or spending time at a spa or favored vacation destination.

Reaching Out To Us

Researchers have concluded that genetics and addiction share a measurable relationship. That said, through awareness and proactive behaviors, those related to substance dependents may avoid such outcomes.

If you or a close association is struggling with addiction, the professional, experienced, and compassionate team of treatment specialists employed at our south Florida establishment are confident we can help reverse this disturbing cycle. Call us at 833-846-5669.

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