Each year, surveys on a variety of scales provide us with statistics in relation to a populations relationship to drug-use.
Government bodies and private health care centres often cite health statistics in relation to drug addiction and alcohol addiction from a variety of sources in their daily business; however, when taken in isolation, certain statistics may not necessarily be useful to places such as health care centres to look at the root causes of addiction as they can paint a very black and white view of the issue of addiction.
One problem with a lot of substance abuse statistics is that they are garnered from people who are entering inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment care for their substance use disorder, which doesn’t cover the sadly large number of addicts who are not in treatment yet have valuable information about the actualities of addiction.
Genes, Addiction, and Personality analysis (GAP analysis) encourages a much wider mix of people who have experience with substance abuse or alcohol addiction to share information about their struggles in order to garner much more valuable and wide-scale insight into substance abuse disorders and addiction as a whole.
What Is GAP Analysis In General Terms
Genes, Addiction and Personality are designed to aid scientific researchers, and in turn healthcare professionals, more fully comprehend the genetic vs environmental factors (nature vs nurture) that can lead to increased risk of someone developing a substance abuse disorder.
While most definitions of “success” in regards to substance abuse treatment are narrowly defined by simply asking people who have been through treatment plans if they have relapsed, this not only, as previously mentioned, excludes people who have tried recovering on their own or with family, but also does not provide much tangible information in regards to why.
However, GAP studies aim to contribute towards identifying which genetic factors are most vital in relation to how likely they are to impact the risk of someone developing a substance use disorder, as well as how the risk of them developing an addiction is increased.
Furthermore, certain studies will also explore how substance abuse disorders can be developed in tandem with mental health disorders such as depression or personality disorders. By painting a more accurate portrait of the reasons behind people developing substance abuse disorders, healthcare centres can be better equipped to deal with addiction at all stages.
Is Addiction A Genetic Trait?
While addiction is a much more complex thing for us to comprehend at present for us to simply declare that addiction is or isn’t a solely genetic issue, the analysis into how genetics may account for addiction is invaluable.
There have been countless studies already done which have shown that genetics accounts for around 50% of the risk of an individual developing a substance abuse disorder. However, the issue is not down to one single gene so to speak; rather, there are potentially thousands of genetic variables which lead to this.
From genetic facts which impact how a person’s physiology reacts to a drug to someone’s genetic disposition to be a more extroverted and risk-taking personality, there are a number of combinations of genetic factors which can lead to substance abuse — and the best, most in-depth studies into addiction and genetics will aim to uncover all possible avenues which lead a person to addiction.
What Can Such Studies Involve To Help Garner Such Important Data
There have been a variety of studies into the relationship between genetics and a person’s development of a substance abuse disorder. However, to use one specific example, a team of doctors from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) investigated this in a manner in which they appealed to a wide array of socially diverse people to take part in their survey across the length and breadth of America.
This involved people with experience with substance abuse disorders filling out a 1-3 minute survey online, and then, should they be successful candidates, being mailed a DNA test and a survey to complete and return.
The study’s information gathered was able to impact the understanding of how biological and environmental factors specifically influence people when it comes to addiction as well as other outcomes such as depression and personality disorders.
Ultimately, the information had the potential to be implemented to increase healthcare professionals abilities to prevent addiction as well as improving treatments.
What Have Been The Difficulties With Such Studies?
There has often been a consideration that addiction “runs in families,” however, analysis into this idea has proven difficult in the past. Members of the team running the VCU GAP study, mentioned above, encountered difficulties with looking into this as families obviously share “common genes and common environmental experiences, that can contribute to familial clustering.”
There is also a somewhat straightforward problem that substance abuse disorder and alcohol abuse can produce differing symptoms for each individual, which can impact investigations.
Furthermore, as hinted towards previously, the sheer quantity of potential genetic factors at play which will need to be analysed throws up a lot of potential hurdles.
One of the went on to say of the research’s struggles, “Each of these [genetic] variants contributes only incrementally to risk, with the environment also playing a key role in the process. Environmental factors can not only increase the chances people NOT at high genetic risk might develop [alcohol use disorder], it can also be protective among those who ARE at high genetic risk.”
What they mean by this, as they went on to explain, is that someone who has the genetic factors making them at high risk, may have not been exposed to alcohol due to local environmental restrictions on acmes to alcohol, which means they likely will not develop alcohol problems despite having the genetic factors — thus interfering with the results.
What Is The Future For Such Studies?
While there are maybe difficulties facing those attempting to pinpoint what genetic factors influence the risk of individuals developing substance abuse disorders, the potential benefits to addictions treatments are massive.
Hopefully, as more studies are conducted, more information from a wider array of people from differing social backgrounds will be gathered and we will be able to improve our ability to prevent and treat addiction, even more so than we at Ocean Recovery are already incredibly primed to do so.
However, if you or someone you know are struggling with drug addiction or alcohol addiction today, then we are here for you at Ocean Recovery. Call us at 01253 847 553, or email us at email@example.com to start your treatment today!