Does Addiction Run in Families?

Does Addiction Run in Families?

Frequently, those who struggle with addiction have had trauma in their past. An unhappy, unstable childhood can lead to substance use disorder, particularly if there are addicted family members in the home. Parents and peers heavily influence childhood development. 

Often when children witness substance abuse in their formative years, they repeat those patterns in their teens or adulthood. If a child undergoes verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, they often will use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with the pain.

However, the question is, does addiction run in families? In this case, we must examine a person’s genetic makeup and family history to determine its influence.

Inherited Addiction

Addiction is a bundle of substance-related disorders that disrupt proper functioning in the brain and alter how a person thinks and behaves. An addiction is formed when a person builds tolerance and dependency to a drug, regardless of adverse effects or circumstances.

Genetics, or “heritability,” is responsible for 40 to 60% of the population’s likelihood of developing an addiction. (1) Still, addiction is generally associated with environmental factors since a person’s surrounding trigger specific neurotransmitters in the brain that signal cravings. Neurotransmitters like dopamine are the leading system in the development of addiction. 

The motivation-reward-reinforcement chemical is activated and spiked through every use. Those who have low dopamine levels in the brain, who might pass on the low D1 or D2 receptors to their child, are likely to turn to drugs to spark dopamine in the brain. Therefore, does addiction run in families? The answer is yes. 

Since addiction runs in families and manipulates the reward chemicals in the brain, what other neurotransmitters are affected? Understanding which transmitter is being targeted due to genetics can help a person avoid addiction or receive the help they need to prevent long-term abuse. Other chemicals in the brain include: 

  • Glutamate
  • Acetylcholine (ACH)
  • Y-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT)
  • Endogenous opioids (endorphin, encephalin)

The genome-wide association studies (GWAS) is a research approach that uses advanced technologies to determine genome and exome sequencing. Studying variations in DNA helps researchers understand the genetic code that passes from one person to another regarding addiction. For example, diseases or cancers can be genetically passed to another person, and addiction is defined as a disease. 

Additionally, epigenetics is the study of functional “and sometimes inherited changes in the regulation of gene activity and expression that are not dependent on gene sequence.” This means these gene reactions are based on environmental factors. To conclude, addiction does run in genes, and a person’s genetic makeup is connected to passing down genetic alterations and environmental factors that inflict a response in the central nervous system. 

How Addiction Affects Families?

The relationship between addiction and family is complicated and highly destructive. Since addiction is hereditary, the likelihood of a child growing up with an addictive personality and trying drugs doubles if a parent or grandparent passes on traits.

Here are some effects of addiction on family: 

  • Overdose 
  • Loss of job 
  • Loss of trust
  • Potential divorce 
  • Financial problems 
  • High levels of stress 
  • Broken relationships 
  • Poor school or work ethic 
  • Promoting drug use at a young age 

There is hope for those struggling with addiction for themselves or their family. Trauma-based therapy offers beneficial methods that help individuals get to the root of their problems. Other unique treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy can help addicts recover and manage their emotions to prevent relapse and unstable emotions. It is best to involve professionals when you are seeking help for addiction for yourself or a loved one.

Recovery at Sunshine Care Centers

Addiction is one of the most common health conditions in the US. Believe it or not, 1 in 10 Americans will suffer from addiction at some point in their lives. If you or a loved one is ready to tackle mental health concerns or drug or alcohol use disorder, Sunshine Care Centers has your back.

Sunshine Care Centers has a suite of specialists with over 30 years of experience in drug and alcohol rehabilitation to assist you on the road to recovery. Whether in North Texas or Southern California, Sunshine Care Centers offers the highest level of care available. We pride ourselves on our clean, compassionate, and secure environment. We use evidence-based addiction treatment with flexible programs that cater to your needs. 

Don’t wait to receive the help you deserve. 

Speak to a specialist at Sunshine Care Centers by calling 883-597-CARE or message us today! 


Related Readings: 

Feedback Informed Treatment

Children of Addicts