Genetics Playing a Factor in Addiction

Genes are composed of sequences of DNA molecules and are packed in chromosomes. Your chromosomes are your basic manual for traits. Genetic factors can include mental health, personality traits, and physiological reactions to drugs such as the severity of hangovers, risk-taking behaviors, and certain type of drugs. Out of the 46 chromosomes you have, 23 of them come from your parents. Genetics are half the reason why someone would have a vulnerability to drugs but that does not mean that you will automatically become an addict.

Genetic traits come in many forms such as physical, behavioral, and an increased vulnerability to diseases and mental illnesses. You can either develop an addiction moderately or highly influenced by your genetic make-up. When you are a child, you can tend to be affected more by the environmental factors that can cause addiction like peer pressure, stress, and the environment you are surrounded in. In adulthood, on the other hand, the environment becomes less influential and your genes are impacted.

There are certain substances that have the lowest and highest heritability such as hallucinogens only having a 39% heritability while cocaine has a 72% heritability. When a gene is absent, your protein controls the development of the function of physiological system that is not produced. For example, a study at the University of Utah says that without the serotonin receptor gene Htr1b, you will be drawn more to cocaine and alcohol consumption. Decreased levels of neuropeptide Y and the mutation of Per2 gene can make a person susceptible to consuming larger doses of alcohol.

Remember that genetics only plays a part in drug and alcohol addiction and is not to blame for becoming one. Having the genes that make you susceptible to addiction just means that you can be more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol compared to other people. You can have a family history of alcohol abuse and that will not guarantee that you will be an alcoholic. It is important to learn about your family history so that you will know that you are not alone in your cravings. Talk to your family about the severity of their cravings and how they get through it. You can educate yourself on the symptoms and signs of addiction to watch out for so that you can detect whether or not you have it. Most importantly, abstain from drugs and alcohol to break the cycle.


Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programs, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.

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