Nature vs Nurture Is Addiction Hereditary

If a parent or sibling abused alcohol or drugs, does that increase the likelihood that another family member will develop an addiction problem? Science says it can, but there are also other factors at play that influence whether someone has a higher risk of substance abuse.

The Genetic and Environmental Components of Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse categorizes addiction as a disease that is influenced by both nature and nurture. A person’s overall health—whether addiction-related or otherwise—is the result of interactions between their genes, environment, and lifestyle, including diet, physical activity, and stress levels.

  • Access to exercise can discourage drug-seeking behavior in high-risk communities.
  • Healthy after-school activities can reduce a young person’s vulnerability to drugs.
  • Exposure to drugs socially or culturally can affect gene expression and gene function, sometimes for a lifetime, influencing the risk or protection of a person to become addicted to a substance.
  • Genes can play a role in how a person responds to his or her environment, a statistic that places some people at a higher risk for developing addiction than others.

Substance Abuse: A Personal Choice?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies of families, including twins and adopted children, reveal that an individual’s risk of substance abuse is proportional to their genetic relationship to a person who has an addiction.

  • Familial and social factors are the biggest determining factors when it comes to the use of nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis in early adolescence. The importance of these factors decrease as a person progresses to young and mid-adulthood.
  • The availability of drugs or alcohol varies by economic status, religion, culture, and more, and can change depending on time and space. Addiction initially depends on whether a substance is available – as well as a person’s choice to use the substance.
  • Like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, addictions are strongly influenced by genetics, but also profoundly impacted by lifestyle and personal choices.

Beat Addiction at Its Source, Whatever That May Be

People who have a substance abuse problem are not destined to suffer from the side effects of drugs and alcohol forever.

Beachside Rehab in West Palm Beach, Florida, offers inpatient and outpatient detox, rehab, and holistic recovery. Call today at 866-349-1770 to speak with a trained admissions counselor.