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Addiction and Genetics

For years, mental health researchers have been trying to determine whether personality, behavior, and mental health are influenced by nature or by environmental factors. Addiction is no different. There have been many studies that have linked genetics and addiction. The current most widely held belief is that addiction is 50% influenced by genetics and 50% influenced by coping skills.

Although there is evidence to support that addiction and genetics are connected, this by no means implies that a person with a family history of addiction is fated to become an addict. There are many people from addicted families who have been able to live lives free from addiction. Studying the connection between genetics and addiction has prompted ethical arguments, and the research has the potential to change the way addiction is treated.

Researchers have pinpointed specific genes that they believe have a role in the genetics of alcoholism and drug addiction. Specific characteristics identified as influencing the genetics of alcoholism include:

  • Lack of the Htr1b serotonin receptor
  • Low levels of neuropeptide
  • Defective Per2 genes
  • Numbers of the ALDH*2 gene: Alcoholism is rare in people with two of them

Everyone has the potential for addiction, as repeated drug abuse rewires the brain. However, addiction and genetics studies have shown that there is some level of predisposition determined by genes. But some researchers focus less on genetics and more on neurochemistry, as dopamine levels are also believed to have a very large influence on addiction.

Professionals concerned with treating addiction agree that while genetic studies are important, examining and adjusting behavior are integral parts of the recovery process. External factors and the environment a person lives and was raised in are just as likely to influence the development of addiction and the likelihood of relapse. It is important to be cautious about substance abuse if you are aware of a family history, but genetics are not the sole influencing factor in the development of addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and needs to seek out a treatment center, you may not know where to turn. You will likely have many questions regarding insurance, location, and the type of facility you want to enter. That's where we come in: BetterAddictionCare is here to help you create an individualized plan for addiction recovery at a rehab center near you. Our addiction specialists will explore your insurance options and locate a treatment center that best suits your needs. Call today or fill out our contact form to get sober and start healing.

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