Substance Use

Is Addiction Genetic?

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Is Addiction a Genetic-Based Disease?

Addiction is a highly complex disease that involves many potential variables. Genetic testing shows that addiction is hereditary and responsible for at least half of a person’s susceptibility to drug addiction. However, that’s only part of the story. Environmental factors also increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder. Understanding what triggers the development of addiction will aid in creating targeted prevention and treatments.

If you are struggling with addiction, partner with an evidence-based treatment facility that prioritizes holistic, individualized treatment. No two individuals share the same experiences or exact genetic factors, which is why each person’s journey is unique. At Zinnia Health, we understand this and tailor every treatment plan based on the client’s history, needs, and ongoing goals. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to discover more. 

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In an article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is a strong argument for genetics’ role in addiction. Neuroscience research on families, identical and fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings suggests that up to half of your risk of becoming addicted to the following drugs is based on genetics.

  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Other addictive substances

There are still many unknowns, so this remains a key area of interest among those seeking new solutions to drug and alcohol addiction. 

For this reason, among others, addiction often runs families. Your family history can paint a picture concerning your own struggles with addiction and is something you should discuss with a healthcare professional — especially if you believe you are losing control.

While much remains unknown, improving technology is helping researchers unlock discoveries each month. Based on years of research, it is clear that genetics influence how likely people are to develop substance use problems.

Not all substances are the same, just as people aren’t the same. It is thought that alcohol addiction is about 50% heritable, while other drug addictions are up to 70% heritable.

Hundreds of genetic risk factors have been discovered, but hundreds more have yet to be identified. Self-regulation plays a significant role, as this ability reflects how brains process risk and reward differently. Some brains are hard-wired to be impulsive, and when combined with other risk factors, that trait can increase the risk of numerous addictions. 

Are There Specific Genes That Cause Addiction?

You may often hear the phrase, “It’s in your genes,” and in some ways, that’s true. Researchers believe genetics account for 40%–60% of a person’s risk. However, there isn’t a single “addiction gene” that some people have or don’t have. The relationship between addiction and your genes is much more complex.

Substance use disorders involve multiple genes, and when environmental variables are factored in, the progression of this disease is highly individualized. For example, when studying the genetics of cocaine use disorder, several common and rare variants were considered, but most genetic risk factors are still largely unknown.

Substance abuse, such as opioid addiction, affects your brain’s reward system, influencing dopamine levels. Your brain’s pleasure center releases this brain chemical. Your genes and environment influence this system, with one of the greatest risk factors being your family history.

If you have a parent with a substance use disorder, you are at risk two-fold. You may be predisposed based on your genetics, and when combined with a potentially riskier environment, your risk is further elevated. 

How your genes and environment interact is highly complex and differs from one case to the next. 

Research shows that environmental factors, like stress, can trigger the development of drug addiction and psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. Gene expression can play a key role in this process. For example, losing your job or a loved one can trigger hormones that impact various systems, including your brain’s reward circuit. This domino effect can also cause people in recovery to relapse, which is why you must remain committed to your aftercare plan

Regardless of where you are in your journey toward sobriety, Zinnia Health is here to help. Please call us to learn more about our evidence-based treatment facilities. Calling (855) 430-9439 could be the next step toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Nature vs. Nurture: How Both Relate to Addiction

Many risks are associated with addiction; not all are linked to genetics. There is a wide spectrum of variable factors, ranging from income level and employment status to peer group and adverse childhood experiences. Often, genetic and environmental factors both play a role. For example, you may have a higher predisposition to struggle with alcoholism because of your genes. Then something in your environment triggers heavy drinking, like grief, poverty, or family dysfunction. 

The development of mental health issues may also contribute to addiction. However, this relationship is complex; in some cases, it’s unclear which causes the other. Some drink or use drugs to try and soothe symptoms associated with their mental health. Others will develop or worsen mental health symptoms following heavy substance use.

Substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand and can be linked to family members. Both addiction and mental health disorders run in families. For example, you may be more prone to anxiety or bipolar disorder. To self-medicate, you might have started drinking heavily, and your alcohol use has since spiraled out of control.

Over time, addiction can cause brain changes, enhancing the rewarding effects of using your addictive substance of choice. Once dependence develops and withdrawal symptoms surface after cessation, this adds another layer to one’s struggles. 

Get Help to Treat Your Addiction Today

Addiction is a disease — it has nothing to do with willpower. While you cannot choose your genes or the environment you grow up in, you can choose to work toward a better life. The initial step can be overwhelming, but it’s essential. Once you partner with a professional treatment center, you will gain access to the support, resources, and treatment options needed to succeed. 

You do not need to embark on this journey alone, nor should you. Zinnia Health offers a wide range of comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment programs that will help you every step of the way. At Zinnia Health, we believe in treating you holistically, offering therapies that target both mental illnesses and addiction.

Our team will work with you to create a program tailored to your needs. For some, that means treating trauma and alcoholism; others become addicted to prescription medications and feel lost. No two stories are the same, and neither are the following treatment plans. 

Let this be the first day of the rest of your life. We’re here for you if you’re ready to seek the help you deserve. Contact Zinnia Health to begin your road to recovery today.

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(855) 430-9439
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