Does addiction run in families? The short answer is yes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), as much as half of a person’s risk for addiction is genetic. However, having a family history of addiction does not mean it is inevitable.
Environmental factors, such as exposure to drugs and alcohol, history of trauma, and family dynamics play as much of a role. This also means that addiction “running in families” may not only have to do with genetics; for instance, using substances to cope with stress can be a learned behavior in people who grew up watching their parents do the same.
Epigenetics—the study of heritable changes in gene expression without any changes to underlying DNA sequence—have shown how a person’s environment can activate or deactivate certain genes. Included in “environment” are any preventative measures taken to promote healthy coping skills and stress reduction techniques.
Early education and prevention are important, especially for youth with more risk factors for addiction. According to NIDA, “a community that provides healthy after-school activities has been shown to reduce vulnerability to drug addiction, and data show that access to exercise can discourage drug-seeking behavior.”
While addiction does run in families, a family history of addiction does not necessarily mean a person will become addicted. Many factors contribute to substance use disorders—and there are just many methods to prevent or recover from addiction.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. At our treatment centers, you will learn to understand the root causes of your addiction so that you can thrive in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.