In previous generations, most people believed that addiction was simply a weakness in character and a lifestyle that some people simply chose. However, there has been a distinct mind shift in the last two decades due to better understanding of how and why addiction happens. Today, most individuals accept the idea that addiction is deeply rooted in both how an individual was raised and genetic factors.
There have been many published studies pertaining to addiction that have helped to increase awareness about addiction. In one study of identical twins from Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (VIPBG) at Virginia Commonwealth University, when one twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin had a significantly higher probability of being addicted, too, when compared to fraternal twins.
These studies have led many researchers and addiction experts to estimate that 50 to 60 percent of addiction is likely due to genetic factors. It’s also estimated that children of addicts are at least eight times more likely to develop an addiction.
The Environment Of Addiction
Yet, there’s more than just genes that cause addiction. Most addicted parents don’t have the goal of turning their children into addicts. Rather, they are focused on themselves and the compulsion of their disease. This focus can quickly become neglect or abuse. Some are impacted financially, and many families are broken up because of addiction.
Although there are plenty of addicts who strive to be good parents, it’s simply a fact that drugs and alcohol impact the lives of parents and children in a multitude of ways. And, the negligence that can happen due to addiction can spawn children to turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. This helps to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.
Nature Versus Nurture
So, do genetics or environment cause addiction? This “chicken or the egg” question has spawned countless debate amongst researchers and addiction specialists. Today, most believe that addiction is actually caused by both. However, there are many individuals who have a family history of genetics who don’t become addicts. Likewise, there are those who have no family history who become alcoholics or drug addicts. What is known is that certain factors increase the risk of addiction.
What About Recovery?
The good news is that addiction doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Many addicts successfully get help and recovery to lead full, productive lives without alcohol or drugs. Just because someone has a strong family history of addiction and even parents who struggled with addiction, it doesn’t necessarily mean that recovery isn’t possible. Genetics and history can’t be changed, but decisions can be made. And, the decision to be sober is one that can have a tremendously positive impact on the entire family for generations to come.
Is A Family Member Struggling With Addiction?
Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family. In fact, it can have an effect on future generations. This is why it’s so important that the individual who is struggling gets help. Addiction is also a progressive disease that rarely goes away on its own. Typically, the problem gets worse over time, and the impact on family members only becomes more significant.
If you have a family member who needs help, don’t wait another day. Call now to speak with an addiction specialist. This could be the start of rewriting your family history with a chapter about how addiction can be successfully treated.