One of the most commonly asked questions we hear as physicians at the leading addiction treatment center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is whether addiction is genetic or caused by environmental factors. Through rigorous research and various scientific studies, we’ve learned that it’s a little bit of both. Keep reading to find out more. 

Can Addiction Run in the Family?

The short answer is yes. An individual whose family has a long history of heavy substance abuse has a genetic predisposition to mimic that abuse. A study presented at the American Psychology Association’s (APA) congressional hearing reveals that genetics account for half of an individual’s vulnerability to substance abuse and subsequent addiction. This supports the findings of an earlier study that found that children who were raised in a household where substance abuse was prevalent were four times more likely to fall into the same pattern as their caretakers. 

However, this is only half the story. 

What Other Factors Contribute to Addiction?

The age-old question of nature vs. nurture has never been more applicable than in this scenario. Although certain individuals have the misfortune of being exposed to drug and alcohol abuse at a young age, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will automatically become addicts themselves. Unlike genetics, there are a host of other controllable factors that influence one’s dependence on narcotics and alcohol. 

Don’t Follow in their Footsteps

It’s important to remember that a genetic predisposition doesn’t define one’s lifestyle. That particular way of thinking creates victims who don’t take responsibility for their actions. People do have the power to make safe and healthy choices. These choices may be hard, but they’re not impossible. 

Those who know that substance abuse runs in the family should take care to educate themselves on the topic of addiction and the preventative measures they can take to avoid falling down that rabbit hole. It’s smart to think ahead and form contingency plans to stay on the straight and narrow. For example, if you know you should avoid the bar, but don’t want to miss out on an important event, elect a close colleague to be a sober companion. These small instances can help you take control of your life. But, if you ever find yourself slipping, get help right away at your local or national alcohol recovery program. Trained professionals have proven success with addiction treatment. 

To learn more about Salt Lake Behavioral Health Hospital and the services we provide, contact us at 801-758-2243.