Working to deconstruct the idea that addiction is some kind of moral failing is still an ongoing process. Therefore, it is important to discuss what factors do play a part in the development of addiction. Genetics can have a large role in the development of addiction.
While any person can develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or behavioral addictions such as gambling or shopping, looking at one’s biological family can indicate one’s predisposition to developing a dangerous addiction. In fact, one’s genetics may play a much larger role in the development of addiction than one may realize. The American Psychological Association concluded that “at least half of a person’s susceptibility to drug addiction can be linked to genetic factors.”
Internalizing the Genetic Component
Addiction and substance use are dependent upon many factors. Two people drinking the same amount of alcohol can have wildly different reactions to its use. As a result, it is important not to gauge one’s own relationship with an addictive substance based on how others may be using it. While unfortunate, those with a parent who has suffered from addiction will be at an increased risk to develop a dependence of some kind themselves, making each use of an addictive substance much riskier.
Addiction is something that is not only personally destructive but impacts entire families. This increased risk of developing an addiction can be extraordinarily dangerous to all involved. Internalizing the genetic component of addiction means understanding that an individual has an increased risk of developing an addiction and that they will have to prepare for the difficult and tense discussion about their own, or a family member’s use, with other family members and especially children.
Find a Time to Talk
Because of the major role that genetics play in the development of addiction, it is crucial that those who suffer from addiction are prepared to talk about their experience with family members. Not only is discussing one’s experience with addiction important to relationships, but it can also be critical information that is directly related to the safety of a family member. While this conversation may not be easy, it is necessary for the sake of the relationship and the well-being of others.
Talking to a child about addiction is difficult, and it can be hard to determine exactly how much information a child may understand. However, children can be full of surprises. For parents who are struggling with an addictive substance, it is common that a child has already recognized that something is different about their living situation, even if an individual is trying to hide their use.
Those who have gone through a recovery program and are successfully employing strategies to mitigate any persistent urges or guilt may also want to approach the conversation from the current standpoint, highlighting their progress before diving into the more difficult, painful memories of addiction. Regardless of how difficult some memories might be, this conversation is essential to prepare for and should be conducted with planning and allocated time for questions and discussion.
Prevention by Education
Anyone who has gone through the recovery process can attest to the intricate difficulties involved with navigating their transformation. However, the best way to combat addiction is to address it in a meaningful way before it develops. The genetics of addiction can make even infrequent use of a substance habit-forming. Therefore, it may be beneficial to acknowledge and address the complex difficulties and personal experiences of addiction at a younger age before a child is exposed to these substances on their own.
Having a parent who has suffered from addiction may leave children at an increased risk of developing one themselves. These parents who have fought to overcome their addiction can also be a valuable resource of personal information that can be incredibly impactful.
Part of the Whole
Genetics play a large role in one’s susceptibility to addiction. However, it is not the only factor at play. One’s genetics, combined with their living environment, mental health concerns, social circles, relationships of any kind, all play a role in the development or prevention of addiction. Knowing one’s predisposition to addiction can be beneficial in creating a plan that consciously addresses the genetic risks while learning to identify problematic factors that may also influence one’s use of an addictive substance.
Recovery is a personal journey, but it can affect the lives of entire families. Talking about the genetics of addiction is one way to open this dialogue and create an understanding of how families can not just address the topic of addiction together but move past it towards a healthy lifestyle.
The genetic side of addiction is a complicated and important part of understanding the interconnected nature of addiction and addiction recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and are ready to take the first step towards healing, Avalon Malibu can help you today. We offer various therapeutic approaches and encourage each individual to customize and personalize their experiences with us. Our trained, caring, supportive staff will help you find the therapies that are right for you and help you take healthy steps forward through recovery. Art therapy, music therapy, and many other experiential approaches are all part of our supportive atmosphere and are staffed with professionals that can help you tackle addiction and mental health issues in an effective, holistic manner. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.