Addiction: Is it in the Genes?

Blue eyes or a talent for sports can be genetically transmitted, but a predisposition for depression, drug abuse or alcoholism can also be passed through the genes.

Genetics aren’t inherently good or bad. We are a complex mix of those who went before us, including many good and not-so-good traits. You may love that you inherited your dad’s curly hair and curse your luck at getting your mom’s ample thighs. A risk of mental health issues and addictions can also be transmitted through the genes.

Family on bikes outdoors smiling

Family History, Substance Abuse and Depression

A strong family history of addiction increases a person’s risk for experiencing ongoing problems themselves, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and undertaken by Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. Drug abuse, alcoholism, clinical depression and anxiety disorders can all run in families. New research shows that family history can be very valuable in determining the risk of psychiatric and substance abuse problems.

Of course, a genetic predisposition is a warning signal, not a life sentence. Being aware of an increased risk allows individuals to be watchful for symptoms of mental health issues and to avoid behaviors that could lead to addiction. Information is power in this case, which is why the researchers behind this study are recommending that doctors ask several screening questions to create a patient’s family history. Close monitoring can lead to prompt treatment and ultimately save lives.

Depression and substance abuse affect every area of a person’s life and can often be related, with many suffering from depression trying to self medicate with drugs or alcohol and substance use exacerbating depression symptoms. A treatment center specializing in dual-occurring disorders, like The Oaks at La Paloma Treatment Center, can address both addiction and mental health disorders together to ensure lasting recovery. For more information, call our toll-free, 24-hour helpline.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.