Addiction is a complicated disease. It has genetic components, but having a gene or a set of genes for addiction does not mean you will become addicted to a substance. It isn’t a death sentence or even a life sentence, for that matter. However, it can be scary. Whether you just found out the truth about those skeletons in your family’s closet or have seen the addiction in your relatives up close, having a family history of addiction can be daunting. What do you do with this information? Do you have to avoid drinking and drugs altogether, or can you exercise moderation? It is important that you learn more about your family history of addiction and how it works so that you can make informed choices. A family therapy program can help you work through your history and look to the future.
Addiction and family history are complicated. There is no one answer to the question of how addiction works in families. However, there are some things you can do to make sense of your family history and addiction. First, it is important to understand that addiction is a disease. It is not a choice or something that people can just snap out of. Second, addiction is often passed down in families. This doesn’t mean that you are doomed to become an addict if your parent is one, but it does mean that you are at a higher risk. Finally, you can take steps to protect yourself from addiction. If you have any questions, we welcome you to reach out to the family addiction recovery program at Recovery Ranch TN today at 1.844.876.7680.
Family History of Addiction
If you have a family history of addiction, such as a parent, an uncle, or maybe a grandparent with a drinking or drug problem, you probably have one or more genes related to the disease. No single gene causes addiction, but researchers have found multiple genes that can make a person more susceptible to it. For instance, a gene has been discovered that is more common in people who abuse cocaine and alcohol. Another gene has been shown to make mice drink more alcohol. These are just a couple of examples of the genes that add to the complexity of addiction. There are even genes that protect a person from addiction.
Family History as a Risk Factor
Addiction is too complicated to have a single cause, but it does have risk factors. These make a person more likely to become addicted to a substance. They include:
- Having a mental illness
- Experiencing trauma
- Being neglected or abused as a child
- Being male
- Family history
Of all of these factors, family history is the strongest predictor of whether someone will become addicted to substances. This is not only because of the genetic component but also because of the family environment. If you grew up with close family members struggling with addiction, you are more likely to have a problem.
Clearly, anyone with a family history of addiction should be cautious around drugs and alcohol. Your genes and your family do not guarantee that you will become addicted, but they make it more likely. It’s like having an impediment that other people don’t have. Maybe your friends can get drunk one day and not pick up another drink for a month, but you may need to be more careful. One bender could lead you down a dangerous path. If you are young, in your teens or early 20s, you should avoid drinking and using drugs.
Starting substance abuse at a young age is another risk factor for addiction. Most people battling addiction started early, so abstain completely if you are still young. As an older adult, you may be able to drink without becoming an addict, but you should always drink moderately. Moderation in drinking means no more than one drink per day for women or two for men. Never binge drink, which is four drinks in one sitting for women and five for men. You can also talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding addiction for additional information and support.
If you worry a lot about addiction or about losing control, abstinence may be a good choice for you. No one needs drugs or alcohol, after all. Stay sober, and you will never have to worry about becoming addicted.
Seek Support at Recovery Ranch TN Today
Whether you or someone you love has a family history of addiction, we can help. Our team of professionals at Recovery Ranch TN is here to provide the support and resources you need to heal. We offer a variety of programs and services, including:
- Residential treatment
- Partial hospitalization
- Intensive outpatient program
- 12-step support groups
- Dual diagnosis treatment