Addiction: Was I born this way?
With drug or alcohol addiction, there is no single factor determining if a person will develop dependency on drugs or alcohol. 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 dependency and addiction. With many diseases, the more risk factors a person has, the greater chance of getting the disease. For example, heart disease runs in many families. Yes, it is partly because of genes, but poor lifestyle choices also play a role. Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sleep, and stress also contribute to risk of heart disease. So, especially when an individual is predisposed for heart disease, it is important to make good life style choices.
Risk factors play a role.
The same holds true with dependency. Genes contribute to half of the risk of a person becoming an addict. 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. Risk factors are typically 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. Positive factors include parental supervision and family support, anti-drug education, using drugs properly and responsibly as they have been prescribed, positive relationships and role models, faith, early treatment of mental health issues, self control and resolve.
You can change behaviors and coping skills for the better. Even if you have a genetic predisposition to addiction, this is not an excuse for dependency. Genes and life experiences do not destine someone to addiction.
Beware – no one is off limits to addiction.
Even with a low genetic predisposition to addiction, anyone can develop a substance dependency 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 at New Day Recovery. It is never too late for a new beginning!