Is Addiction Genetic? What to Know About the Disease
Addiction is an incredibly complex disorder, and when trying to understand it, many families grapple with the question: Is addiction genetic?
The answer is yes. It’s important to acknowledge that genetics is a risk factor for developing types of addiction. If someone’s family has an addiction, there may be an increased risk or probability that you or a loved one can develop an addiction.
However, it’s not only “in the genes.” There are many other important factors to look at when considering a person’s risk of becoming addicted. These include gender, mental health, and environmental influences. In this article, we’ll delve into the role of genetics in addiction and the different risk factors that can lead to it.
At Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery our Nampa, Idaho rehab center will discuss treatment options that can be used to address substance use disorder or any co-occurring mental health disorder. If you’re wondering how addiction is genetic, keep reading—you’ll find out everything you need to know here.
What is Addiction and is it Genetic?
It’s easy to assume that something as destructive as addiction is a disease that is fundamentally a genetic condition. But addiction is much more complicated. The reality is that addiction is a disease caused by both genetic and environmental factors.
Research has shown that genes have a significant influence on addiction development, which allows us to determine how much genetics contribute to addiction. For instance, if one identical twin develops an addiction, the other twin is more likely to develop the same addiction. This indicates that genetic factors can affect an individual’s tendency to develop addictive behaviors more rapidly than others. Studies suggest that genetic factors can explain around 40 to 60 percent of an individual’s addiction risk.
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What Are the Different Risk Factors That Can Lead to Addiction?
While genetics plays an important role in addiction, it is not the only thing that can lead to addiction. Your surroundings—your family, friends, lifestyle, and other things in your environment and personal choices—can also put you at a higher risk of this chronic condition.
- Family history of addiction: Individuals with a family history of addiction are more likely to develop a substance use disorder.
- Genetic predisposition: Certain genes may increase an individual’s vulnerability to addiction or affect the way their body responds to substances.
- Mental health disorders: Individuals with mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression, may have a higher risk of addiction due to genetic factors that influence both mental health and addiction.
- Family environment: A family environment with a history of substance abuse or poor parenting practices can increase the risk of addiction for individuals.
- Peer pressure: Social pressure to use substances, particularly during adolescence, can contribute to the development of addiction. Associating with peers who use drugs or alcohol can increase the likelihood of experimentation and subsequent addiction.
- Early exposure to substances: Early exposure to drugs or alcohol can increase the risk of developing addiction later in life. The younger an individual is when they first use substances, the more likely they are to develop a SUD.
- Traumatic experiences: Experiencing trauma, abuse, or chronic stress can increase vulnerability to addiction, as individuals may turn to substances as a coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions or to escape from their problems.
- Availability of substances: Easy access to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco in one’s living environment can increase the risk of addiction. Living in areas with high substance availability or lax enforcement of drug laws can contribute to the development of SUDs.
- Socioeconomic factors: Poverty, lack of education, and unemployment can contribute to substance use and addiction. These factors may lead to feelings of hopelessness, stress, or limited opportunities. It can drive individuals to use substances as a means of escape or temporary relief.
What Are the Role of Genetics in Addiction?
When it comes to addiction, the role of genetics can be significant. Studies have shown that a person’s genetic makeup can play a major part in their susceptibility to addiction. However, genetics is just one factor in the development of addiction. Different risk factors, like having a history of substance abuse or dependence, can also increase the likelihood of having an addiction.
The role that gender plays in the development of an addiction is a bit complicated, though. For instance, different genders may use different substances or coping techniques as a result of social and cultural expectations. The same goes for how someone responds to certain treatments for addiction. Factors such as stigma, societal expectations, and the availability of gender-specific treatment programs can influence the success of recovery efforts. Gender also influences the progression of addiction. Changes in physiology, metabolism, and hormonal swings may be attributed to this.
Genetics and the environment can contribute to addiction. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of determining exactly how much addiction is genetic, exactly how the environment factors in, and what the other important risk factors are, things aren’t so clear-cut.
Environmental factors have a significant impact on an individual’s likelihood of becoming addicted. Peer pressure, stress levels, a history of trauma, a lack of support, economic considerations, and cultural and social views may all play a role in this.
The mental health impacts of addiction can be just as serious as the physical ones. One of the ways that genetics and environment come together to affect addiction is through mental health issues. Mental health problems such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and other psychiatric disorders can make it more likely for someone to develop an addiction.
The important thing to remember is that you are not alone! There are many treatment options available for individuals struggling with addiction, and there are different routes you can take on your journey to recovery.
Treatment Options for Addiction: Detox, MAT & More
Treatment options for addiction come in many varieties, and which one is right for you can depend on several factors.
The first step in treating your addiction is medical detox, which cleans your system of all drugs and alcohol. Detox is often done in a supervised facility since it can be tough to do alone and there may be withdrawal symptoms. This step should always come first before transitioning to the other kinds of treatments available.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a type of care used to treat addiction that combines medication with counseling and behavioral therapy. This type of treatment is typically recommended for those who are struggling with opioid addiction. MAT helps reduce cravings as well as the risk of a drug overdose.
For people who suffer from both mental health disorders and substance use disorders, dual diagnosis treatment is needed. This type of treatment allows the patient to receive treatment for both conditions at the same time. This can be done through a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and other support services.
The goal of dual diagnosis treatment is to help the patient understand the connection between their mental health and their addiction. It teaches them skills to manage both conditions and provides them with the support they need to sustain long-term recovery. This kind of treatment is best conducted in a specialized treatment center, as they have the resources and personnel to create an individualized plan that can be matched to the patient’s needs.
Holistic treatment programs are a type of treatment that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. These programs often incorporate meditation, yoga, nutrition, and other alternative therapies to help individuals living with addiction. These programs can provide an additional layer of support in addition to traditional treatments. It can help individuals find a sense of balance in their lives.
For long-term recovery, residential treatment and outpatient treatment programs provide comprehensive care and support. These programs offer individualized treatment, including evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), trauma-informed care, family therapy, and 12-step recovery principles. During these treatments, patients learn how to manage cravings, develop positive coping skills to deal with stressors, identify triggers that lead to substance abuse, build healthy relationships, and gain insight into their addiction.
Aftercare plans are designed and created for an individual’s needs and circumstances. Because everyone’s recovery journey looks different, these plans are tailored to each person’s journey and can be adjusted as needed. Depending on the type of aftercare plan you pursue, these may include:
- Regular meetings with therapists or counselors;
- One-on-one meetings with an alumni coordinator;
- Connecting with peers who are pursuing similar paths in recovery
- Group counseling sessions
- Participation in support groups
No matter which type of treatment you choose, you must find a program that works for you. Each person’s experience with addiction is unique, so it is important to find a treatment plan that meets your needs. With the right treatment and proper care, healing is possible!
Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery Empowers Change
By understanding the impact of genetics and environment on addiction, recognizing the different types of treatments available, and seeking out a transformative addiction treatment center, individuals can work towards successful recovery from substance use. It’s important to remember that addiction is a treatable medical condition, and at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery, we empower individuals to overcome their substance use disorders and transform their lives for the better.
Set in a serene and supportive environment, Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery offers a holistic approach, focusing on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of healing. Call us right away!
Kendall Maloof is the clinical director at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has held multiple leadership roles before settling here at Eagle Creek. Kendall received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2016. Her career in mental and behavioral health began in 2014 when she took up internships in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She interned at multiple reputable companies, such as The Living Success Center and 449 Recovery in California.
In 2019, Kendall became the clinical director of Sunsets Recovery for Woman, a dual diagnosis program in southern California. Kendall is a natural leader. She has an incredible ability to problem solve and stay calm in any situation. Kendall never fails to show up when she is needed, and her calm demeanor makes her team and clients feel at ease. Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery is proud to have Kendall as our clinical director.