Its An Important Question: Is There An Addiction Gene
Each year, addiction takes a financial toll on people in the U.S. to the tune of billions of dollars, but that isnt the only fallout. Addiction to drugs and alcohol can impact all aspects of an individuals life, such as their job, schooling, community standing, and family relationships. Because drug and alcohol addiction often plague more than one family memberand more than one generationaddiction is often referred to as a hereditary disease.
Researchers Seek To Unravel The Mystery Of Susceptibility To Drug Addiction
Why do some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol while others dont?
What role does genetics play? Which genes or networks of genes are key?
Geneticists Trudy Mackay and Robert Anholt lead a team of researchers from the Clemson University Center for Human Genetics working to unravel those mysteries using Drosophila melanogaster, or the common fruit fly.
The work, funded by a five-year, nearly $2.5 million grant renewal from the National Institutes of Healths National Institute on Drug Abuse , builds upon previous work by Mackay and Anholt to identify the genetic underpinnings of cocaine and methamphetamine consumption. The research could lay the groundwork for developing new drugs or repurposing already approved drugs to treat or prevent addiction in humans.
Cul3 Pde4b And Ptger3
In a 2019 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse , researchers analyzed addiction-related behaviors with life events, diseases and health. Then, they correlated the results with the genes that are involved in substance abuse. This process showed that more than 400 genomic locations can affect how you use nicotine and alcohol. Within those locations, researchers identified at least 566 variants.
These results suggest that the genetic factors that affect addiction are extremely complex. However, researchers did find three genes that were common in all the identified nicotine and alcohol phenotypes: CUL3, PDE4B and PTGER3.
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Are Children Of Addicts At Heightened Risk
One study revealed that children of addicts are eight times more likely to develop an addiction than others. The study observed 231 individuals who had an addiction and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Following that, it looked at first-degree relatives of the individuals and determined that people addicted to a substance are eight times as likely to produce children who will become addicted.
But how can this generational transmission happen? Is it a gene in the brain? Does it predispose children to be more likely, genetically? Not exclusively, but it is worth examining.
Researchers have not identified the quantifiable characteristic that is being passed on to the next generation they just know that people who suffer from addiction tend to be related to other people who suffer from the same disease. The answer may lie in the other 50 percent: those poor coping skills.
Children with addicted parents are statistically more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles and have trouble coping with things like negative emotions or stress. These coping skills affect their future and their prospects of become addicted. Additionally, if a mother is using while pregnant, there is an even greater chance that the child will become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The Addictive Gene: Why Addiction Runs In Families
What do scientists mean when they say genetics play a role in addiction? What exactly makes someone more susceptible to addiction? And how does this relate to behavioral and environmental factors? Genetic factors play a significant role in whether someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.
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Ways To Fight A Genetic Predisposition To Addiction
Even though studies show that theres a link between genetics and addiction, research also shows that you can overcome this risk factor. Practicing healthy coping skills, reducing stress, maintaining a proper diet, developing effective communication skills, and being in the right environment can help you fight a genetic predisposition to addiction.
- Healthy coping skills. Everyone needs to know how to handle difficult situations in a healthy way, but this is especially true if you have a family history of addiction. Remember, addiction is 40 to 60% genetic, which means 50% of your risk comes from poor coping skills and stress management. Practicing healthy coping skills can help you adapt to sudden changes, overcome challenges, bounce back from adversity, lower stress, anxiety, and depression, and have a brighter outlook on life. The specific coping skills you develop are up to you, but having time to yourself, engaging in hobbies, deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and journaling are great options to try.
- Productive ways to reduce stress. Stress is one of the main triggers of substance abuse. Keeping your stress levels low can help you avoid using drugs and alcohol as a stress reliever. Common ways to reduce stress include laughing, exercising, writing, listening to music, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, walking, aromatherapy, and talking to supportive friends and family.
You can also reduce your risk of addiction by:
What Are The Different Risk Factors That Can Lead To Addiction
Several risk factors can contribute to addiction. Some are environmental while others are biological or hereditary. Environmental risk factors can include exposure to drugs and alcohol at an early age, family problems and instability, and being in a negative peer group. Biological or hereditary risk factors can include having parents or siblings with addiction issues, being born with a predisposition to addiction, and early exposure to drugs or alcohol.
There is a great deal of debate over whether addiction is hereditary or not. Some studies suggest that there is an addictive gene that can be passed down from one generation to the next. However, other studies have shown that addiction is more likely due to environmental factors than it is to genetics.
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What Environmental Factors Make Someone Susceptible To Addiction
For researchers, its often a combination of factors they identify in people suffering from addiction. For instance, a person born to a parent who has an alcohol addiction may be genetically predisposed to the condition as well.
However, simply being present in a home where a parent or guardian abuses alcohol or drugs is also a risk factor for addiction development. Why? Because children often mimic their elders. If a person drinks to quell their anger or stress, kids see and learn that behavior.
Family members habits arent the only environmental factors associated with addiction development. A persons peer group and socio-economic status are also strong factors. Although addiction affects people in all socio-economic groups, those individuals living in poverty are at the greatest risk for developing an addiction.
A persons social or peer group can also have a strong impact. Being in close proximity to others abusing alcohol or drugs increases the likelihood of use and, ultimately, abuse.
You Can Change Your Life
Battling an addiction doesnt make you a failure. In fact, accepting that you have a problem and are willing to do something about it takes a lot of courage.
If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, we at the Robert Alexander Center for Recovery are ready to help. We offer high-quality, evidence-based alcohol and drug addiction treatment for residents of Kentucky and beyond. Our treatment programs include detoxification, intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment, all carried out by professional addiction treatment experts.
Get in touch with us today and well help you find a path to long-term recovery and sobriety.
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Genetics: One Contributor To Addiction
It has been found that genetics can play a role in the development of addiction. Genes may contribute to the vulnerability to substance abuse in a number of ways: genetic mutations that lead to alterations in the structure and function of the brain may influence the way in which the individual responds to exposure to the substance.6For example,the gene aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 has been known to be a protective factor of alcohol dependence by affecting the way that alcohol is broken down in the body. Moreover, individuals may be genetically more likely to exhibit problems with impulsivity, poor emotion regulation skills, executive dysfunction, or other temperamental characteristics that may increase their individual risk for using substances.7
While certain genes have been proposed to contribute to addiction, including the interaction of multiple genes, it is uncertain whether a true genotype of addiction can ever been discovered, due to the complex personality and environmental factors that also shape addiction.20
How To Find Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Programs
If you are ready to get help for your addiction, our facility can help you manage your current addiction or minimize your risk of addiction due to a genetic predisposition. At our facility, we specialize in individualized treatment that addresses your psychological and physical health at the same time. Treatment might involve:
- Understanding your addiction.
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What Are The Role Of Genetics In Addiction
Genetics can also play a role in addiction, which may run in families. This is because genetics are responsible for the way chemicals are sent around within our brains. There is some debate about whether or not there is an addictive gene that contains instructions for how these neurotransmitters work in the brain.
Regardless of whether or not there is a specific gene that can be classified as responsible for addiction, studies have shown that genetics do play a role in addiction. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences stated that alcoholism tends to run in families, even when one or both parents are not alcoholics themselves. This study also found evidence of genetic factors in other types of drug abuse, like cocaine.
Other research has shown that genetics may put certain people at risk for developing an addiction. For example, most people who smoke marijuana do not become addicted however, about 10 percent of the population is at risk of becoming dependent on this drug due to hereditary factors. Therefore, someone who uses marijuana might be more likely to develop an addiction if they have family members with histories of other addictions.
Scientists have found that there is some sort of genetic pattern that has been identified with addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse. However, environmental factors also contribute majorly to whether or not an individual will be susceptible to addictions.
Mental Health And Addiction
Mental health symptoms can also increase the risk of addiction. For example, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder are both associated with an increased vulnerability to developing addictions.
A study that was published in the journal Mental Health and Addiction showed that individuals with a history of mental health problems were 3 times more likely to develop an addiction than those without a history of mental health issues.
However, it is important to note that not everyone who possesses this gene will develop an addiction. Many people who have the addictive gene never develop an addiction.
This is because addiction is a complex disease that is influenced by many different factors, including environmental and social factors that add to potential risks.
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Is Addiction A Disease
Consider heart disease. It’s partly due to genes and partly due to poor life style choices such as bad diet, lack of exercise, and smoking. The same is true for other common diseases like adult-onset diabetes. Many forms of cancers are due to a combination of genes and life style. But if your doctor said that you had diabetes or heart disease, you wouldn’t think you were bad person. You would think, “What can I do to overcome this disease?” That is how you should approach addiction. Addiction is like most major diseases.
Addiction is not a weakness. The fact that addiction crosses all socio-economic boundaries confirms that addiction is a disease. People who don’t know about addiction will tell you that you just need to be stronger to control your use. But if that was true then only unsuccessful people or unmotivated people would have an addiction, and yet 10% of high-functioning executives have an addiction.
If you think of addiction as a weakness, you’ll paint yourself into a corner that you can’t get out of. You’ll focus on being stronger and trying to control your use, instead of treating addiction like a disease and focusing on stopping your use.
Environmental Factors And Drug Addiction
More and more evidence points out that environmental factors, such as stress, can trigger epigenetic changes that promote drug addiction. These changes are gene expressions that dont alter DNA itself.
For example, a stressful situation triggers the release of steroid hormones. These hormones trigger various alterations throughout the body that induce epigenetic changes. The brains reward system is highly susceptible to these stress hormones. Researchers believe the interaction between these hormones and the reward system can trigger the onset of addiction and stress-induced relapse.
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What Is Your Family History
Most people don’t know their family history of addiction very well. Most families dont talk about addiction. Not too long ago you could have a raging alcoholic in your family and nobody would talk about it. Or they would make some quaint remark like, “Oh he drinks a little too much.” There was so little people could do about addiction before that there was no point in talking about it.
But now that you can do something about addiction, a family history is worth talking about. Once you stop using and tell your family that you’re in recovery, that’s often when they will tell you about the family secrets. That’s when family members will sometimes come out of the closet and tell you their stories.
Let your coping skills be the legacy you pass on to your children. Don’t let your genes be the only legacy you pass on to your children. Your children are more likely to have an addiction because of your addiction. But their genes don’t have to be their destiny. You can help your children lead happy lives by teaching them healthy coping skills by being an example with your recovery.
What Is A Genetic Predisposition
Genetic predisposition refers to the chance that you might be at an increased risk of developing a certain disease based on your genetic makeup. Your genetic makeup can be determined through your family history or alterations in your genes. When you have a predisposition to a disease, it contributes to whether or not you develop it, but it doesnt cause it.
The term can be used interchangeably with genetic susceptibility.
Genetic susceptibility or predisposition can mean that youre more likely to develop the condition under certain conditions. There is usually at least one other contributing factor, and often several others trigger a disease you have an underlying susceptibility to. Many of these are environmental factors.
Many chronic conditions and complex diseases have either a suspected or known genetic basis, including addiction to alcohol and drugs abuse. Along with addiction, other disorders with genetic links include:
- Cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease
- Psychiatric diseases
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
There are genetic variations that parents pass to children. These variations are different from the typical genes most people have. They make you vulnerable to diseases if you encounter other contributing factors during your life.
Contributing factors include other genes, environmental exposure, alcohol or drug abuse, and hormonal changes.
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Are You Addicted To Drugs And Alcohol Its Never Too Late To Seek Help
In answering the question whether addiction is genetic, the simple answer is maybe. Scientists and psychologists are continuing to research the correlations between genes and addiction to see if there is any definitive proof such genes exist. While there may be evidence that shows that addiction may have genetic dispositions in certain populations, it can also be argued that genetics alone will not cause addiction in people. Whether you truly believe that addiction is a lifelong battle, or if you feel that addiction can be cured, it is important to know that it is never too late to seek treatment. While the effects and consequences of addiction are real, recovery from addiction is real.
Research Advance: A Gene Linked To Cannabis Use Disorder
It is estimated that 30% of marijuana users have a cannabis use disorder, representing problematic useand in some casesaddiction. The risk for cannabis use disorder has a strong genetic component, but the genetic architecture has been unclear. Scientists recently performed a genome-wide association study11 to try to identify genes that might put people at risk for problematic cannabis use. They studied 2,387 cases and 48,985 controls, and replicated their findings in another large group. They identified a genetic locus on chromosome 8 that controls the levels of the gene CHRNA2 expressed in the brain. Low levels of expression of the gene CHRNA2 in the cerebellum are found to be associated with cannabis use disorder, including diagnosis at an earlier age. In addition, genetic factors associated with educational attainment were found to be protective against the disorder. The findings suggest that under expression of CHRNA2 in the cerebellum is involved in cannabis use disorders, and provides a potential target for future prevention strategies, therapies and medications.
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Environmental Factors In Addiction
While genetics may play a role in addiction, it is not the only factor that contributes to this disease. Environmental factors also play a significant role. People who grow up in homes where there is violence or addiction are more likely to develop their addictions later in life.
Additionally, people who have easy access to drugs are more likely to become addicted.
Although a persons genetics may make them more likely to become addicted, it is certainly not the sole factor in addiction. In fEnvironmentalditions and socioeconomic status play a huge role as well.
Furthermore, there are some debates about whether or not there is an addictive gene present in the human body and how it functions within our brain and nervous system. Nonetheless, research has shown that genetics does contribute to the risk of developing an addiction.
The genetic link to drug addiction has been very controversial for many years. It was not until the 1990s when scientists started establishing evidence that supported this theory. Dr. Nora Volkow, who is currently the director of NIDA , discovered in her research that certain brain receptors within our brains are more sensitive to drugs than others due to genetics.