Can your genes affect whether or not you become addicted to drugs or alcohol?
If someone in your family has a problem with substance abuse or addiction, you may have found yourself wondering if it will affect you too. This isn’t an unreasonable question. Studies on twins have shown that genetics do play a part in how likely an individual is to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
What does this mean for me?
Without a complex analysis of your DNA, it’s hard to say whether or not your particular genes will give you a predisposition toward addiction. The science behind addiction is fascinating, but it takes place on a level that doesn’t translate well to everyday choices and understanding. Take note of your family history as you would with a medical history of cancer or heart disease. If close family members suffer from addiction, this could be an indicator that you’re at risk.
If I don’t have a family history, am I safe?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that environment and genetics are linked. Your life, stress, culture and more can affect whether or not you develop an addiction. Genetics may influence how you respond to stress in your life. It’s important to understand that no one is “safe” from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Even if you don’t have genes that increase your risk, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Do genetics affect treatment?
In the future, DNA may help doctors establish the best treatment options for an individual's addiction. Fortunately, progress is being made rapidly. Establishing better treatment options for addiction is in the best interests of everyone.
If you believe you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, talk to your doctor or consult with a counselor right away to find out how you can get the help you need. To learn more about LiveFree! and our mission to reduce youth substance abuse, visit our website.