7 Things To Know About Genetics and Addiction
It is an established fact that your addiction to alcohol or substance abuse can be linked to your family genes. However, what many people fail to realize is that family history or genetics cannot resign you to this fate and there are a number of other factors that play an equally important role in your predicament.
Today we take a look at how deeply genetics is correlated with substance or alcohol addiction.
1) Genes Do Not Decide Your Destiny
You may share a family history with these symptoms but it is never the sole reason for your addiction. Researchers have found that environmental factors do play an equally important role and anything from a stressful work environment, or an exhausting relationship can lead you to addiction. If you are never subjected to these conditions, your genes alone cannot help you make an addict.
2) A Single Gene Is Not To Blame
It is not a single gene that can be linked to alcohol or substance addiction. It is always a combination of genes that are suspected to be responsible for this behavior. There are hundreds of genes that can multiply the effect but identifying them isn’t an easy task. This is because each gene might be playing a very small role in your chances of getting addicted but coupled with several others they might have a monumental effect.
3) Behavioral Genes Can Multiply The Effect
It is an established fact that people subjected to mental illness have a higher chance of turning to alcohol or substance abuse for cope up mechanisms. Mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia are more common in people who have a family history of these diseases which can somehow be linked to alcohol and substance addiction. These genes can act as important part of the combination of genes we discussed earlier thus increasing the chances of addiction by over 20%.
4) Genes Never Act As Catalysts
Irrespective of our genetic structure, it is always the outside factors that trigger these issues in humans. We might have inherited genes corresponding to alcohol or substance abuse but they are always the secondary factors that contribute to our problems. They might help to turn our alcohol problems manifold but are never the reason to initiate it. Environmental factors like stressful work environment, debilitating relationships and trauma are much likely to act as catalysts.
5) Genes Could Also Decrease The Risk Of Addiction
As far as genes are concerned, they could play an equally important role in decreasing your chances of getting addicted. Studies have found that some people have been found to have genes corresponding to decreased alcohol metabolism. Nausea, headaches, and increased heart rates are common in such people after alcohol intake. As a result, they start avoiding liquor altogether, thus decreasing the chances of addiction significantly.
6) Genes Could Also Affect De-addiction Treatment
Another study states that genes could also vastly affect the treatment of alcohol and substance de-addiction. A drug called Naltrexone was found to overcome addiction and was then tried on a few people battling alcohol and substance abuse. However, the results were very contradictory. People with a specific gene were reacting positively to the drug while others showed no sign of change at all. Further research on this could help Doctors prescribe a particular drug to people depending upon their gene structure, thus increasing the chances of the treatment working.
7) Having Close Relatives Battling Addiction
We all know that family history plays an important role in the chances of you having genes corresponding to addiction. If you have more than one closely related family members battling addiction, your chances of getting addicted are increased 3-4 times. However, recent studies have failed to show such strong correlation. It was found that an effect of this magnitude was possible only if a direct parent was subjected to addiction problems and the results weren’t that drastic when compared to other relatives. It should be noted that it only defines the magnitude of the situation.
These points just go on to show that a person’s chances of getting addicted are not entirely related to genetic structure and a number of social and environmental factors play an equally important role. It has also been found that less than half of the people who were found to have a direct parent with similar problems never showed any signs of addiction.