According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a “chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” There is a lot of debate surrounding what determines addiction. Some people believe it’s genetic, while others think it’s environmental.
Which one is right?
The answer may not be black and white, but somewhere in the middle. The frustrating thing about the genes that affect a person’s likelihood of abusing substances is that no one trait determines a person’s vulnerability to addiction. Instead, several genetic traits and environmental factors influence your odds of being affected.
Even those having certain traits that make them susceptible are not guaranteed to
In this blog post, we will explore the latest research on genetics and the environment’s role in addiction.
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Many genes may contribute to addiction.
The role of genetics in addiction is a complex topic that is still being studied.
However, current research suggests a strong genetic component to these diseases. It is estimated that genetics account for about half of the risk of someone developing an addiction.
Studies investigating the role of genes in drug addiction have suggested that natural variations in proteins can result in differences in the level of vulnerability concerning a person’s potential to abuse drugs.
For example, a gene called DRD2 has been linked to alcoholism. This gene affects how the brain processes dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure and reward. People with this gene are more likely to become addicted to alcohol because they enjoy the feeling of being drunk more than people without the gene.
Additionally, a gene called SERT has been linked to drug addiction. This gene affects the way serotonin is transported in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being.
Environmental Factors Contributing to Addiction
While genetics may predispose someone to addiction, it is important to remember that environmental factors also influence these diseases.
Environmental factors such as poverty, trauma, and peer pressure can lead to addiction. These factors increase the risk of exposure to drugs and alcohol. They also make it more likely that someone will start using drugs or alcohol at an early age. And, once someone starts using, they are more likely to become addicted.
In addition, the US National Library of Medicine names several “addictive agents” that increase a person’s vulnerability to addiction. These include:
- Economic status
- Social policy
- Exposure to substance
Social circumstances also make a person more likely to engage in prolonged substance use, including a lack of parental involvement or care during childhood and early difficulties with education.
So, which is more important? Genetics or environment?
The answer is both. It is important to remember that addiction is a complex disorder caused by a combination of genetics and the environment. Neither side can be wholly blamed for addiction – it results from a delicate interaction between the two.
Addiction is a complicated condition stemming from numerous genetic and environmental risk factors. Your biological genes account for roughly half your risk factors for addiction.
Notably, the Genetic Science Learning Center reports that while some genes can make someone more susceptible to addiction, “Someone’s genetic makeup will never doom them to inevitably become an addict.”
So, what can we do to prevent addiction?
Combat Addiction Through Early Intervention and Prevention Programs
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it is important to remember that help is available. Treatment should be tailored to the individual and address the person’s needs, including physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Prevention should begin early. Knowing protective factors are in place from the start adds more assurance that a person will not fall victim to addiction. For instance, ensuring children are raised in a stable environment and away from substance use, with access to good education, is a highly beneficial method of prevention.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
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