Families hand things down from generation to generation, and addiction might be one of them. Studies have shown that children with addictive parents are eight times more likely to suffer from addiction than those in a drug-free home.
Genetics play a role in addiction, but they aren’t everything. Learning how to know if you have the addiction gene can help you stay proactive and avoid addiction issues.
What Is a Genetic Predisposition?
A genetic predisposition refers to the chance that you could develop a certain disease based on your genetic makeup. This increased chance can be determined through your family history.
When you have a predisposition to a disease, genes don’t cause the problem but can contribute to the development of it. There are usually other factors contributing to developing a disease, most commonly environmental factors.
Many complex diseases and chronic conditions have a suspected or known genetic basis, including an addition to drugs and alcohol.
Researchers are still working on genetic studies of the human genome. Genetic tests can help them understand how a particular gene variant affects the development of diseases.
The Link Between Genetics and Addiction
Substance abuse disorders, like alcohol and drug addiction, are linked to genetic factors. About half of someone’s susceptibility to developing these disorders is linked to genetics.
If your parents abuse alcohol or drugs, you might be genetically predisposed to addiction. Your risk of developing these problems is higher, but not a guarantee.
Is there an addiction gene? There isn’t one specific addiction gene, but researchers have identified genes associated with addiction. Although research is still ongoing, these genes can be associated with addiction:
- GABRA2 and CHRM2
- MAOA, SLC6A4, COMT
- CUL3, PDE4B, PTGER3
Many behavioral or impulse-control-related genes could raise the risk of developing an addiction disorder.
Indirect Risk Factors
There are also indirect ways that genetics play a role in developing an addiction. These mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders have genetic risk factors:
- Bipolar disorder
- Anxiety disorders
These disorders are associated with substance abuse.
Future studies will continue to find out if particular genes impact someone’s risk of addiction. By targeting these genes, science and medicine may one day be able to help people avoid developing an addictive personality.
Environmental Risk Factors
Hereditary behaviors and environmental factors interact to form our decisions. These are common factors that can increase your risk of substance abuse:
- High crime rates
- Having easy access to substances
- Having a low socioeconomic status
- Substance use at an early age
- Seeing substance abuse as a community norm
- Being unemployed
The more risk factors in your environment, the more likely you are to develop an addiction.
How to Know if You Have the Addiction Gene
Learning how to know if you have the addiction gene can be helpful if you want to avoid a substance abuse disorder.
While there is no specific addiction gene, there are signs you could have a genetic predisposition to addiction.
Your Parents Struggle With Substance Abuse
If you have one or both parents using drugs or alcohol, you might have a predisposition to addiction. It doesn’t mean that you’ll certainly develop an addiction, but it can increase your chances.
In addition to genetics, there are other reasons why children of drug and alcohol users are more likely to have a substance use problem.
Parents using these substances might not provide a supportive and loving environment. These people can also be more violent or unstable. These are risk factors that could lead to addiction.
Exposure to adverse life experiences can harm brain development. Addiction is a brain disorder that can impact behaviors like emotional regulation, decision-making, and impulse control.
You Find It Hard to Limit Your Drinking
Social drinking or drinking alcohol occasionally doesn’t mean you have an addiction problem. Many people can drink and stop before things get out of hand.
If you feel like you can’t stop when you start drinking, you could have an underlying problem. A key addiction symptom is not being able to stop drinking or cut down when you try to.
It’s Hard to Deal With Stress
Without strong coping skills and resiliency to stress, you could seek drugs and alcohol for comfort. Not dealing with stress well could be due to your mental health genetics.
People who struggle with mental health disorders and stress coping mechanisms are at a higher risk of addiction. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism that leads to major problems.
If you find yourself dealing with this, consider getting help for alcohol abuse or drugs.
What to Do if You Have a Genetic Predisposition to Addiction
There are things you can do to reduce your chances of a substance abuse addiction no matter your family history or genetic makeup.
Taking care of your mental and physical health is an important first step. Make time for physical exercise, and self-care, and eat a nutritious diet. These protective factors can help you avoid potential addiction.
Additionally, a professional can help you with positive coping mechanisms to avoid an addiction before it starts.
Treatment can help you understand addiction, risks, and the triggers you may experience. An expert can come up with a treatment plan personalized to fit your needs.
If you are already struggling with addiction, the fight isn’t over. The first step in recovery could be to enter a medical detox for support when withdrawing from substances.
Create a Positive Change in Your Life
While learning how to know if you have the addiction gene, you might have realized you are genetically predisposed to addiction.
Start making positive changes in your life to avoid being a victim of substance abuse. You can protect your emotional and physical well-being and find positive coping mechanisms for stress.
Remember, just because you are genetically predisposed to addiction doesn’t mean you will become addicted to substances. If you are already dealing with a substance abuse disorder, get the professional help you need today.
For more health information, check out the other posts on our blog.