Genetic Factors of Addiction

Genetic Factors of Addiction

When scientists study addiction, they look for biological differences that affect someone’s overall likelihood of becoming an addict. “Addictive genes” might make someone more likely start abusing drugs, less likely to stop, or both.

There’s no single addictive gene that scientists can use to predict addiction — Not all addicts carry the same genes, nor do all addictive genes cause problems for all the their carriers. We know that addiction is influenced by genes, but the specifics of how and why are mostly a mystery.

Everyone has a genetic predisposition for addiction — It’s not just people with addicted parents who should remain vigilant. They’re not the only ones at risk, they’re just at a much greater risk. Studies conducted on identical twins have revealed interesting contrasts in which the non-genetically addicted twin – the one without additive genes – sometimes winds up the drug-abuser, while the twin with classic addictive neurological features stays sober. Some people, it turns out, actually develop addictive tendencies in their lives.

Addictive traits yield significant evolutionary advantage — Back when we had to hunt, gather, and struggle to survive, a sense of reward truly meant something. Food, shelter, and warmth were difficult to obtain. The instinct to repeat whichever behavior made it possible was crucial for survival. Today, not so much. Drug and alcohol abuse are just one way in which people overindulge. These coping mechanisms for anyone, predisposition or not, because everyone is hardwired this way.

It’s complicated — Elements of nature and nurture aren’t just difficult to link–they’re hard to identify in the first place. What constitutes each? Even if someone has an addictive gene, how can we know whether it’s causing an addiction, exacerbating it, or having any effect at all? Same goes for the environment in which the addict is raised. No matter how obvious it may seem, or how appropriate it may seem to blame someone, we can’t tell for sure whether different circumstances would have made a difference.

The factors that cause addiction may not be obvious, but we know treatment helps so long as the addict, their family, and their treatment specialists all work together. Call Blueprints today for a referral: (888) 744-9969


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