Home > Young People > Can Addictions Be Inherited?

Can Addictions Be Inherited?

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 2 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Alcoholism Alcohol Drugs Addictions

Addictions occur for a range of different reasons, some fairly common to many addicts whilst others are not but is it possible for a person to develop an addiction because their parent was an addict or does it happen for another reason?

The Role Of Genetics In Addiction

Most experts agree that genetics do play a role in addiction but this factor does not necessarily mean that family members have a gene that says they will definitely become an addict of something but that these people all carry significant genetics that suggest they are more susceptible to addiction and once they start using a substance, will find it increasingly difficult to cease using it.

This evidence shows that family members might all have a similar tendency to become addictive but not that they have a ‘faulty’ gene that implies they are genetically addicts. The public often misconstrue this fact as such when in fact the lack of understanding about this concept can lead to people assuming all members of a family have addiction in them and that they are destined to one day develop alcohol dependence, succumb to substance misuse or perhaps even use harder drugs such as cocaine, crack or heroine.

The role of genetics in addiction is not dependent on a single gene but is comprised of many different genes interacting and reacting with each other which might make the person more vulnerable to the problem. It is far more likely that any role genetics might have in addiction is far more likely to be superseded by the other factors that are known to contribute to the incidence and likelihood of addiction developing in the first place.

Other Possible Reasons

It may not necessarily be that a person becomes addicted to something because of an inherited problem but because they learn that the behaviour is acceptable and a normal part of life. For example if a child sees their parents smoking several times a day everyday from a very early age, the chances of them becoming a smoker are a lot higher than in those whose parents have never smoked.

It may be that cigarettes and tobacco do not carry the same fears and taboo for these children as they see them, smell them, breathe them in and have their presence in their lives more often that not.Environmental factors are also contributory in addiction occurrence and again this can seem to follow down the generations of some families but this is often due to circumstance rather than genetics profile.

Alcoholism is known to be very prevalent in poorer societies and frequently each generation will be born into, grow up in and start their own family in similar surroundings which continues this cycle of events.

What Can Be Learned From This?

As addiction has become a big part of modern society, a lot of money, time and effort has been spent researching the whole topic and the findings have allowed experts to develop screening tools, therapies and drugs that can help treat the physical and mental effects of addictions, but also just as importantly can be used in helping lessen the biological causes of addiction hopefully preventing the person from deteriorating and possibly risk their life.

Common addictions include drug use, alcoholism and substance misuse to name a few and evidence now exists to prove that genetics does indeed play a role in its occurrence but in a less obvious way than that which is initially considered from the term ‘genetics’.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
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