With drug or alcohol addiction, there is no single factor determining if a person will become addicted. It is true that a person may be more likely to become an addict over another because of a genetic predisposition. Even though an “addiction gene” has not been identified, research does show that genes are responsible for about half of the risk of a person becoming an addict. But for the question…
“WAS I BORN AN ADDICT?” THE ANSWER IS NO!
Addiction is Not Genetically Inherited
No one is born an addict or destined to a life of addiction. With many diseases, the more risk factors a person has to contribute towards a disease, the greater chance of getting the disease. For example, heart disease runs in many families. Yes, it is partly because of genes, but poor life style choices such as poor eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sleep, stress, etc also contribute towards getting heart disease. So, especially when an individual is predisposed for heart disease, it is important to make good life style choices.
The same holds true with addiction. With half of the risk of a person becoming an addict related to genes, the other half depends on other risk factors a person faces. Some risk factors include: mental health issues, substance abuse in family or peers, availability of drugs/alcohol, lack of parental supervision, starting alcohol or drug use at an early age, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or trauma, poor social skills, poor coping skills. Many of these risk factors are learned behaviors/poor coping skills. For example, children of alcoholics are 3 to 4 times more likely than others to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs. This is because of not only genetics, but also learned behavior.
Some of these risk factors are out of a person’s control, but there are positive factors that can negate the risks of learned behaviors/poor coping skills and the better the chances of an addiction free life. Some examples of positive factors are parental supervision and family support, community and school anti-drug education, using drugs properly and responsibly as they have been prescribed for injuries and illnesses, positive relationships and role models, faith, early treatment of mental health issues, self control and resolve.
The good news is that behaviors and coping skills can always be changed for the better. Even if you have a genetic predisposition to addiction, this is not an excuse for addiction. No one is destined to addiction because of genes and life experiences.
Be Aware – No One is Off Limits With Addiction
Even with a low genetic predisposition to addiction, anyone can develop a substance problem. If a person continually abuses alcohol they can become addicted. Alcohol addiction does not care about age, gender, money or social status. Some drugs are so highly addictive. Prescription opiate drug and heroin addiction are at epidemic levels. No one has to accept being an addict.
If alcohol or drug abuse is affecting your life and you are ready for recovery, take the first step and get help today. It is never too late for a new beginning!