September 20, 2018

Is Addiction Hereditary?

Looking at Your Family History

It can be widely speculated that addiction can be hereditary. If there are addicts in your family, it could be possible that their behaviors can be passed on to you, as well. When considering this, it is important to look at your family history, especially your parent’s. Numerous studies show the cause of addiction can be broken down to 50 percent genetic and 50 percent issues with coping skills.

Further studies have shown that children of addicts are up to 8 times more likely to also develop an addiction. One study in particular took 231 individuals who had been clinically diagnosed with an addiction and compared them to 61 people who did not have addictions to drugs or alcohol. Then it took a look at the close relatives of these participants, as in parents, siblings, and children. It came to the conclusion that it’s 8 times more likely for the children of addicts to also become addicts.

The genes that influence alcoholism can be expressed in a variety of ways:

  • Smaller amygdala: This is the part of the brain associated with the roles of emotions and is associated with cravings. In some studies, individuals who have a family history that includes alcoholism have smaller than average amygdala.
  • Variety of warning signs: Those who have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism may have differently programed neurological warning signals that tell tell their body to stop drinking.
  • Levels of abnormal serotonin: Serotonin is the most important mood regulating neurotransmitter, and is often closely associated with depression. Abnormal levels of serotonin have been commonly found in people who have genetic predisposition to alcohol use disorder.

History of Mental Health

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) states that there is connection between mental illness and the usage of addictive substances. It also states that the patients who have mental health disorders account for 38 percent of alcohol consumption, 44% of cocaine use, 40% of cigarette smokers. Mental health disorders and addiction are very often co-occurring diseases. This is because medications can often be addictive, or the mental health patient tends to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Some common examples and scenarios of self medication could be:

  • A person suffering the effects of depression using marijuana to alleviate and “numb” the pain
  • Drinking alcohol to relieve social anxiety in public interactions, and feeling like they need alcohol in order to be outgoing and chatty
  • A person with loss or lack of motivation and low energy might try stimulants like cocaine, adderall or methamphetamines in order to stay focused and get tasks done
  • A person who suffers panic attacks might take barbiturates, Xanax, or Valium, to calm symptoms or prevent them before onset. This is normal and often prescribed, but taking anything beyond the prescribed dose can be seen as self-medicating and abusing the prescription.

History of Abuse

The brain begins its growing and maturing during childhood. It forms relationships between neural connections. It can strengthen or discard these connections in response to stimuli. The experiences you have as a child like learning to talk and walk are examples of the connection forming and developing between neurons.

The assessment of people who have experienced childhood trauma have shown that being mistreated during the brain’s development stages has caused frequent and extreme levels of high stress that have impeded normal brain development. The stress it causes over time have caused structural disruptions, which are likely making victims of childhood trauma more vulnerable to abuse substances.

Abuse might not only happen at childhood – it can happen as an adult, as well. Someone could experience sexual abuse, emotional abuse or even physical abuse as an adult that can greatly affect them. Without the right coping skills to handle these events as an adult, it often leads to addiction.

Experiencing abuse takes large emotional toll. It can make it hard to have normal and healthy relationships, as well as lead to insecurity and fears that people who haven’t experienced abuse might feel. This can lead to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to stop these feelings, as well as in an effort to “forget” the abuse.

Coping Skills Are Hereditary

There’s the old saying “Monkey see, Monkey do”, and this can be very true for children. If a parent has poor coping skills that could lead to drug or alcohol abuse, a child who sees this can perceive it as a normal coping mechanism. This often leads to addiction later in life for the child.

It is important to recognize that if your parent has an addiction, you are more likely to have one as well. Even if growing up with an addict parent was difficult and emotional, you are still likely to repeat their behavior because that is what you learned as a child. Breaking the cycle with your own children and showing them healthy coping skills can be the only way to prevent it from going any further in generations.

About Cliffside Malibu

Addiction can oftentimes be a family disease, and not just from family members enabling the addict in their family. It can mean passing on negative coping skills and behaviors that can lead to their children becoming addicts themselves. Cliffside Malibu takes great care in helping you relearn coping skills to break this cycle.

Upon entering Cliffside Malibu, each patient is carefully assessed and a custom treatment plan is created for not only their detox needs, but for their treatment for long-lasting recovery as well. Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.

It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com

Addiction, Addiction Recovery, Alcohol, Alcoholism, Depression, Depression Treatment, Drinking, Drug Rehab Information, Drug Treatment, Dual Diagnosis and Eating Disorder Treatment, Mental Health , , , ,
About Jaclyn Uloth