Genetics and Addiction
By Patrick Mclemore
Individuals with a family history of drug addiction or alcoholism are at a greater risk for addiction
themselves. While scientists have not found an "addiction gene," the genetic connection appears clear.
Children of addicts or alcoholics who were adopted by another non-addict family often develop addictions, even
in the absence of an addicted environment.
This may be because of other emotional disorders present in the genetics of the family line, or there may be a
number of genetic factors that come together to create a tendency for addiction.
Children of alcoholics are said to be 4 to 8 times as likely to become alcoholics as opposed to people without
family history of alcoholism. However, part of the amount of risk can be accounted for through environmental
Based on our current understanding, it is probable that environmental influences will be at least as important,
and possibly more important, than genetic influences.
Success in uncovering the genes involved in a vulnerability to alcoholism will help researchers to recognize the
potential for alcoholism in high-risk individuals, to intervene at an early stage, and to develop new treatments
for alcohol-related problems.
This is an area of scientific and medical research that will continue to yield important answers to the basic
questions of what causes alcoholism and how we as a society can prevent and treat it.
Genes might play a direct role in the development of alcoholism, as in affecting the body's metabolism of
alcohol; or they might play a less direct role, influencing a person's temperament or personality in such a way
that the person becomes vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse.
Everyone with a family history of alcoholism is at risk for developing alcohol abuse disorders, but males who
are aggressive and extroverted are at the greatest risk.
They will, at some point in their lives, be more likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol than someone who is
introverted and socially inhibited.
Progress has been made in understanding genetic vulnerability toward drug addiction and alcoholism. Researchers
now know that more than one gene is more than likely to be responsible for this inclination towards alcoholism or
It's up to researchers now to determine what these genes are and whether they are specific for alcohol and drug
abuse or something more general, such as differences in personality that may increase an individual's vulnerability
to alcoholism and drug addiction.
Researchers must also determine how genes and the environment interact to influence an individual toward
alcoholism and drug addiction.
Hopefully soon, a breakthrough will come, bringing about a more thorough understanding what causes alcoholism
and drug addiction.
Currently, the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction is still a mystery overall. The causes and conditions
have still yet to be fully understood but one day, a breakthrough should come.
Until that day, we will continue on our current path, helping those who suffer from the fatal disease of alcohol
and drug addiction.
For more information on alcohol and drug addiction, please visit: Alcohol and Drug Rehab.
Patrick McLemore has been a recovering alcoholic and drug addict since June 6, 2005. Patrick widely known as
an expert in the field of addictions, he has not only studied the topic extensively, but has lived it.
Patrick has worked with the Manor House Recovery Center for over two years. During that time he has been
instrumental in the recovery and continued sobriety of numerous recovering alcoholic and drug addicts.
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