Home > Recognising Addiction > Addiction and Genes

Addiction and Genes

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 11 Mar 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Addictions Genes Emotional Family

There has traditionally been a great deal of debate around addiction and genes. One approach seems to imply that linking addiction to genes means addicts won’t take responsibility for their addiction. In turn, it will be harder to overcome.

Another school of thought is that addiction is fully under the control of the addict. This means he or she always has the ability to stop with the right emotional support. These two sides have sometimes been very black and white but this has become outdated.

Addiction, Genes and External Influences

Today, we are moving toward a more integrated and realistic view of addiction. While it’s important to acknowledge the role that your genes can play in your susceptibility to addiction, environmental influences also contribute. Treatment might include a drug that targets the biological difference while counselling and support help the addict to take action as well.

What is an Addiction Gene?

The premise of an addiction gene does not refer to a gene that makes it inevitable you will become addicted. Rather, it is a biological difference that makes you more or less likely to become addicted.

It refers more to a vulnerability to become addicted. It could also mean that it is more difficult for an addicted person to quit. In fact, it may even mean that withdrawal symptoms are more intense if they do manage to quit initially.

How Addiction Genes Affect You

When you think of addiction genes, it is easy to think it’s a gene that relates to becoming more addicted. But interestingly enough, the opposite can be true. Your genetic makeup can make it harder to become addicted.

It might mean that you try a certain drug and feel sick from it or don’t feel any desire to use it again. In contrast, a person more likely to become addicted may feel an intense craving for that drug right after trying it. The key point here is that these genes influence but don’t dictate your path in terms of whether or not you become addicted to a substance.

Addictions Within the Family

Where there is an addiction gene, we also have to look at inheritance. We have already known for some time that children of addicted parents are more likely to suffer from addiction.

Having now identified a number of different addiction genes, we’re closer to looking at how these are inherited. But it is far from simple because addictions do not stem from just one gene. Instead, multiple genes couples with your environment interact to influence your likelihood of becoming addicted.

Different Genes in Different Addicts

Contrary to what some people believe, identifying an addiction gene does not mean every addict has this gene. No two addicts will necessarily have the same combination of addiction genes. Nor, in fact, will they have the same environmental risk factors although we have identified common threads such as abuse.

Targeting Genes With Medicines

Having identified addiction genes, the next step is targeting these genes with medicines that could modify the activity of the gene. This would allow us to suppress an addiction gene, thus bringing stability to the signals or paths in the brain.

In an ideal world one day, we may have successful genetic testing to allow us to find out the genes in each patient. Then, we could offer the best medicine to target those genes. But for now, the fact we have identified genes as important in treating addiction is progress.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
damo210 - Your Question:
Hi, I have a very addictive personality. I have previously had a gambling problem, managed to stop for a while but there is always something I'm addicted too.I've become addicted to gambling again recently which has escalated from this "i want to be rich" fascade. This ultimately occured from playing google play games. I got addicted to one of these, spent more money than I shouldve and it's escalated from there. I'm trying to stop both but the most annoying thing is I like the games I play and I'm fully aware that gambling doesn't benefit anyone other than the hosts. I've had counselling before but this wasn't useful in my opinion. This has got to the point where I'm now struggling to pay bills, it's affecting my relationship with my partner and friends and I don't know what to do. Its more of an impulse for me to gamble, I will ask myself in my head why im doing it but i'll do it any way, its that bad. hope this makes sense. any support would be appreciated.

Our Response:
You can see more via the NHS link here which gives tips and advice regarding who you can contact. There is also a very good article via the link here which looks specifically at online gambling and how to stop. I hope this helps.
BeatingAddictions - 12-Mar-18 @ 12:03 PM
Hi, I have a very addictive personality. I have previously had a gambling problem, managed to stop for a while but there is always something i'm addicted too...I've become addicted to gambling again recently which has escalated from this "i want to be rich" fascade. This ultimately occured from playing google play games... I got addicted to one of these, spent more money than i shouldve and it's escalated from there. I'm trying to stop both but the most annoying thing is i like the games i play and i'm fully aware that gambling doesn't benefit anyone other than the hosts. I've had counselling before but this wasn't useful in my opinion. This has got to the point where i'm now struggling to pay bills, it's affecting my relationship with my partner and friends and i don't know what to do. Its more of an impulse for me to gamble, i will ask myself in my head why im doing it but i'll do it any way, its that bad. hope this makes sense. any support would be appreciated..
damo210 - 11-Mar-18 @ 6:26 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Katie
    Re: Medical Help to Beat an Addiction
    I am addicted to smoking cannabis and it’s affecting my life. It has caused anxiety and I need advice.
    19 October 2018
  • Cass30
    Re: Recognising Alcohol Addiciton
    My partner drinks every night to the extreme mixing cider with vodka and is refusing to get help the odd time when his not…
    19 October 2018
  • Brotherhood
    Re: Recognising drug addiction.
    Hi Everyone, I am reaching out in desperation. 5 days ago I learned that my brother who is 18 months older than me is addicted to…
    19 October 2018
  • Buzz
    Re: Cravings and How to Control Them
    I want to start off saying me and my family were extremely and still are . But on the 27th of February 2013 my dad came into…
    17 October 2018
  • Misty
    Re: Recognising drug addiction.
    My son is 14 years old and has quickly become addicted to smoking weed. He seeks the company of other kids who will smoke weed and…
    16 October 2018
  • Sister in law
    Re: Recognising drug addiction.
    My sisters partner has been addicted to speed for over 20 years. He uses it daily and without it he can not get out of bed. He has…
    15 October 2018
  • Worriedbod.
    Re: Recognising drug addiction.
    Hi, a very close friend has recently realised that he may have an addiction, although he isn't wholly admitting it. He still says,…
    12 October 2018
  • Hazo
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    Hi. I think I have an addictive personality. Over the past few years I have been addicted to smoking then gambling…
    11 October 2018
  • Dawn
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    Its a very hard life being a addict be kind to yourself go to GP They are not judgemental . Will give you something…
    4 October 2018
  • Dawn
    Re: How to Assess The Level of an Addiction
    Any addiction seems fun when you step on to that road it leads to nothing but distruction . And its only you who can…
    4 October 2018