With addiction being a common disease that impacts millions across the globe, many people wonder, is there a genetic link to addiction?

In this article, we discuss the genetic link to addiction, along with how other influencing factors, such as environment, can also play a pivotal role in addiction development.


In short – yes. Various studies that involved children of alcohol-dependent parents have shown that they are 4 times more likely to develop an addiction. Furthermore, pregnant mothers who have abused substances at this time can create a chemical imbalance, leading their children to be alcohol dependent. In these cases, foetal alcohol syndrome is another issue that may occur in mothers facing alcohol addiction.

Susceptibility is the most important word to note when we speak of genetics and addiction. A person’s genetic makeup is determined by their parents, with 50% from the mother and 50% from the father.

If one of the parents has an addiction, the child may be at a predisposition to potential addiction conditions later in life, and this figure rises if both parents have a history of addiction. It’s worth noting, however, that there are no specific genes that mean that this is a given – and being at more of a risk of developing a dependency does not mean it is a certainty that it will occur.


Understanding Addiction: The Role of Genetics and Environment

Many people believe that our genes, the traits we inherit from our parents, play a major role in developing addictions. However, it’s not just about genes; our surroundings and life experiences also significantly impact us.

Some children of addicted parents may have genetic changes that affect certain brain cells. These changes can lead to an imbalance in how these cells function, making them more susceptible to addiction. But it’s also important to remember that personality traits can go hand-in-hand with addiction tendencies.

A child’s surroundings can influence how they view drugs and addictive behaviours. For example, if they grow up in an environment where drug use is prevalent, they might see it as normal. Being exposed to addictive substances early in life can shape their beliefs about drug use. Additionally, if their friends or close associates use drugs, it reinforces the idea that such behaviour is typical or even acceptable.

Factors like living in unsafe conditions or lacking good social skills can change how a child perceives substance use. In some challenging environments, turning to drugs or addictive behaviours can sadly seem like the only way to cope.

Factors that influence addiction include (but are not limited to):

  • Living conditions: Such as poverty.
  • Social factors: Include social interactions and the ability to communicate effectively.
  • Mental health: Conditions like anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, and bipolar disorder can be influential.
  • Experiences of trauma: Whether emotional, physical, or sexual.
  • Feelings of abandonment: This can have a profound impact on a person’s vulnerability to addiction.

It’s estimated that the influence is evenly split: genetics accounts for 50%, and environmental factors make up the other 50%. But while genetics plays a part, it’s essential to address and understand the environmental aspects. For many, a structured rehabilitation programme can offer much-needed help.


Implications for Prevention and Treatment

Dealing with addiction, whether it’s because of genetics or your surroundings, might seem like an unbeatable challenge. But believe it or not, there are many paths to get better and recover once and for all.

Remember, our minds and bodies are deeply connected. So, when we address the root mental problems, we often find we don’t want those harmful substances anymore. It’s also essential to remember that addiction is a disease. So, getting help sooner rather than later is a game-changer when it comes to taking back control of our lives.

What causes addiction? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Support from family can make a big difference, helping someone find their way back to health. But trying to face addiction alone can be super tough. Each person’s journey to recovery is unique, so treatments need to be designed just for them, keeping in mind any other health issues they might have.

What’s the best way to treat addiction? Well, it’s different for everyone. The type of help you get will depend on what you think is best for you. Recovery is a personal journey, which is why programmes for treating addiction are often completely unique and tailored to the individual.

Comprehensive treatment for addiction is typically broken down into different phases:

  • Detoxification: Detoxification removes the toxins from the body in a medical environment. You will be relieved of withdrawal symptoms in this phase. 24/7 care will be implemented, and you will also have access to relaxation therapies, good nutrition and a relaxing safe space to recover.
  • Personalised programmes: In this phase, patients look for the causes of addiction together with the therapist during one-to-one sessions. You will also undergo CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and other types of sessions to understand your behaviours and learn to change them.  Concomitant diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders and psychosis are also treated and therefore give you tools to deal with your conditions.
  • Aftercare: A dedicated aftercare programme will be implemented for your life after rehabilitation. Relapse prevention, as it is also called, is only available for private rehabilitation patients.


Find Help Today

When you are facing addiction, life can seem as if it lacks colour. It may feel as if you’re spiralling out of control, and if you are constantly surrounded by poor environments that make you feel as if you have lost control. But here at Ocean Recovery, we can help someone who is struggling with addiction.

Our world-renowned therapies and bespoke treatment plans can give you a new lease of life, and heal the traumas and mental health conditions to help you remove addiction from your life. For more information on how a rehabilitation programme could help you, please contact us on 0800 880 7596 today.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 15, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.