Is Addiction Genetic?

February 4, 2022

3 "mins"

Addiction is a pervasive disorder. Approximately 10% of the United States population meets the criteria for an addiction disorder at some point in their lives. Because this number is so high and so prevalent, researchers have been trying to figure out why some people develop an addiction disorder when experimenting with drugs, but others don’t. There have been many studies and many hypotheses tested. There is no definitive answer as to what actually causes an individual to develop an addiction disorder, but there is strong evidence that it is somewhat genetic. This allows for us to make better predictions and put in measures for prevention to reduce the prevalence of addiction disorders in the future. 

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a disorder that can develop when one uses drugs over a period of time. This is not the case for everyone who uses or tries drugs, but it is for many vulnerable to developing an addiction. The following is a list of symptoms that characterize a substance use disorder, or addiction: 

  • Having intense cravings for the drug or feeling like you must use it 
  • Spending a lot of time or money obtaining the drug, using it, and recovering from the effects of it
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you start to reduce your use of the drug 
  • Tolerance symptoms, or needing more significant amounts of the drug or more frequent doses to get the same effects
  • Continued use in situations that are physically hazardous, such as blackouts, memory loss, or driving under the influence
  • Continuing to use even when it is causing problems socially, interpersonally, legally, physically, or psychologically
  • Trying to stop or reduce use and being unsuccessful 
  • Use is getting in the way of meeting obligations, such as parenting, work, or school
  • Continued use has caused you to give up or reduce important events, such as hobbies or family events
  • Your use has progressed over time by consuming larger amounts or over a longer period of time than you intended 

What Causes Addiction?

Addiction initially starts in the brain. When drugs are consumed, it causes an excess release of a neurotransmitter in the brain known as dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain. Dopamine makes us feel happy. It is released when we do things that bring us joy, such as eating a cupcake, seeing a friend, or spending time with family. When there is an excess of dopamine, it can make us feel euphoric and “high”. This high can be so intense that it causes the individual to continually chase that high, thus increasing their overall amount of use and frequency as it becomes an addiction.

Is Addiction Genetic?

Researchers have found evidence to support the idea that addictions disorders run in the family. This suggests that there is at least somewhat of a genetic component in the development of an addiction disorder. The question has been, how big of a factor is genetics? Researchers have found that genetics accounts for about 40-50% of an individual’s risk of developing an addiction. The other 50-60% risk of developing an addiction comes from stressors, personality, environment, and more. Having a genetic predisposition to developing an addiction makes the individual more vulnerable to developing an addiction when they are presented with these other risk factors. 

How to Find Addiction Treatment Centers Near Me

West Valley Detox offers state-of-the-art treatment in a beautiful location. You will be able to receive quality treatment for your substance use and mental health concerns while being comfortable and healthy. Once you arrive, we offer medically assisted detox and residential treatment. We provide round-the-clock care with experienced and highly trained staff who are excited to provide you with one on one treatment. Our clinician-to-patient ratio of 3:1 allows this. In addition to therapy for addiction and mental health, we also offer help with nutrition, art therapy, grief counseling, yoga, life skills, and more. We will work alongside you to tailor an individualized treatment plan with our client-focused and highly customizable curriculum. 
There are over 14,000 drug rehab centers in the United States. But there’s only one West Valley Detox. Contact us today with a confidential and free call to start your journey to recovery.


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