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Addiction education: Does Addiction run in the Family?

Family Addiction

Addiction education: Does Addiction run in the Family?

August 12, 2016

One of the many questions that we have when first confronting addiction is “does it run in my family?” Addiction is widely known as a chronic disease centered on a substance dependency that goes against our better will. But it comes from more than just a drug or chemical. It has roots in our genes and can pass on to different family generations. Although each person's case is unique to them, there is a real connection between one person's addictive tendencies, and their family's genetic framework. In order to better work combat our addiction, it is important to understand who it works and where it comes from.


How Addiction Works

Addiction comes from more than just the usage of a particular drug; it could originate from one’s genetics. Let me explain: Addiction is generally the result of a substance taking advantage of the brain’s need for dopamine. Dopamine is a natural chemical in the central nervous system that allows someone to function calmly. Dopamine is often activated through a person’s need for something (i.e. an activity, drink, or person). So those born with lower amounts of dopamine in their system normally require a greater amount of it. In other words, the person is more susceptible to becoming addicted to something.


Genetics of Addiction

Since the low dopamine levels are a genetic condition, it can very easily pass on to the next generation. However, this does not mean that a baby can be born genetically addicted to drugs and alcohol. A father could be addicted to alcohol, while his son could be addicted to sex (even though he never touched alcohol in his life). The genetic dopamine levels do not make one susceptible to a specific addiction, they are just susceptible to becoming addicted to anything.


Good and Bad Addiction

However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. We are all addicted to something; the only problem is the subject of our dependency. Are we dependent on something productive or destructive? You could be addicted to regularly drinking tea and exercising, or you could be addicted to self-destructive substances and chemicals.


Addiction During Pregnancy

However, there is the possibility of babies being born addicts to a specific drug, most of the time this results from the mother using drugs during or prior to pregnancy. This is not however a result of genetics. This is because of the mother’s drug/alcohol dependency being fed straight to the fetus during development. This is a very unfortunate case, but it is treatable depending on the health of the child.


There is Hope

Whether or not the dependency is hereditary, addiction is one of the more treatable illnesses in the country. Recovery Care Partner’s drug and alcohol programs provide the best treatment for anyone’s condition, including the tools for families to handle their conditions together.