The road to recovery from addiction might seem like fixing broken glass, an enterprise that appears a futile exercise when there is little family support. Therapists and doctors all over the world emphasize the importance of family involvement for the rehabilitation of an afflicted member. Many families realize this and extend support, but what if a family is responsible for a person to become an addict?
It Runs in the Family!
Oftentimes, when addicts present themselves for treatment, they throw a curveball at the therapist and the family saying that they have a family history of addiction - that it runs in their genes. This might seem audacious and escapist; a denial with very good defense. Many times, therapists and family members feel cornered by this kind of response, but is there really any connection between genetics and addiction? Does a family history of addiction behave like a family history of diabetes or any other disease? Let’s find out! We think that a person takes to alcohol or drugs by personal choice. Therapists reiterate that socio-cultural, psychological, and biological factors also play a major role. A new research suggests that there might actually be a connection between genetics and addiction.
The Genetic Link
It was found in numerous researches that people with certain genetic predisposition have more chances of getting hooked onto something once they start it. It would be difficult for them to quit the substance due to the so calledaddiction genes. It was also found that such people have more severe withdrawal symptoms. Scientists say that finding the exact addiction gene is an effort as addiction is a complex disease and multiple genes might be involved. Also, not all addicts have these gene traits and not all people with these gene traits are addicts. This still leaves us with the question of the influence of genes on addicts. But, when large families were studied, they observed a pattern which seems to suggest that addiction runs in families. By studying the DNA patterns of members of large families with addiction, they found that some genes like DRD2 gene (dopamine receptor gene) was common among people addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
Coping with Addiction Genes
Researchers conclude that though there is a genetic link to addiction, only 50% of it is genetic. The rest is bad coping skill. It can be concluded that addiction has a strong connection with genetics, but is no good a reason to continue to be an addict!
Hope is not lost for those who think that they are doomed with an existing family history of addiction. Humans are complex beings and our lives are complexly wired to the environs we live in. It has to be understood that many people, though they have a family history of addiction have never indulged in any kind of substance intake.
Those who are afflicted with addiction having had a family history are so because of their poor coping skills. For addicts, a family history of addiction should not be a justification for their predicament.
Addiction is a complex disease where there is altered functioning of the body and the brain causing them to repeatedly use a substance despite that harming their bodies severely. It affects relationships, careers, families and friends. For proper rehabilitation of an addict, the role of a family far from being a contributor is that of providing emotional support and succor in order for the person to get well.
Though family history and genetics create a predisposition for a person to become an addict, they are also the life nets for addicts to be saved from addiction and lead a normal life.
At Hope Trust we believe that the role of a family on the road to recovery is pivotal and it is only with a family therapy that an addict can have a new lease of life. It is for this reason that the rehab has developed a well-researched and time tested Family Support Program that runs concurrently with the addict’s treatment. If there is an addict in your family, please don’t think that the family history is alone responsible for that. In fact, as a family you can overcome these testing times together.