The Genetics of Addiction: Is Addiction Hereditary?

Addiction isn’t hereditary, but one’s predisposition to become addicted is affected by hereditary factors. Here, we’ll dive into the genetics of addiction and the science behind this disease.

If you or your loved one need a safe space to recover from addiction, contact Myrtle Beach Recovery to learn more about our short- and long-term recovery programs.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a disease that affects dopamine levels in your brain, which allow you to feel pleasure. Drug use releases strong bouts of dopamine, hence creating a euphoric effect. But, over time, your brain builds up a tolerance and requires more and more of the substance to experience the same high. In addition, when you are not on the drug, your brain can no longer produce normal levels of dopamine on its own, causing you to feel sick, depressed, anxious, and more. In essence, drug use physically alters the way that your brain functions.

Addiction & Genetics

If you think about other types of diseases, it’s true that some can be passed down from birth. But more often, people receive genes that put them at risk of developing a disease later on.

The same goes for addiction. No person is born with an addiction—but certain genes predispose a person to be more likely to become addicted. However, unlike other diseases, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that there is no solitary gene that indicates that you’ll become addicted. Rather, multiple genes come into play, which makes it more difficult to predict.

Many researchers study twins to determine how genes play a factor in leading to addiction. According to one American Journal of Psychiatry study conducted in 1999, after looking at 861 pairs of identical twins and 653 pairs of fraternal twins, they concluded that 50 to 60 percent of addiction was due to genetic factors. Since then, many other studies have been conducted yielding similar results.

What Other Factors Contribute to Addiction?

As you can see, genetics play a significant role in your chances of becoming addicted. However, most researchers agree that addiction stems from a combination of one’s biological makeup as well as one’s environment. The following are other factors that can also contribute to one’s likelihood of developing an addiction:

  • Depression and anxiety. Many people turn to drugs to cope with their feelings.
  • Trauma. Similarly, drug use may mask the pain and memory of trauma.
  • Medical conditions. Opioids are highly addictive. Many people experience the strong effects of opioids while receiving treatment for other medical conditions. Misuse of these drugs can easily lead to addiction.
  • Societal pressures. Many activities are centered around alcohol. Plus, younger adults are more likely to feel peer pressured into experimenting with other more dangerous drugs.

Contact Myrtle Beach Recovery

We hope you better understand the genetics of addiction. If you believe you might be addicted, don’t hesitate to reach out to Myrtle Beach Recovery today. We offer short-term and long-term recovery programs, providing a safe place to work through the 12 Steps.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you on your path to sobriety.