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Is Addiction Genetic or Environmental?

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By Orlando Treatment February 8, 2022

Is Addiction Genetic or Environmental?

While the stigma surrounding addiction has changed greatly over the years, it still has a long way to go. Many people still believe that addiction is simply a choice and that the person suffering can simply just choose to stop using at any point. This is not the case. Addiction is a disease much in the same way diabetes is a disease or any of the other common and recognized diseases. 

While addiction is a disease, there is some debate as to how addiction begins. In some cases, addiction can be genetic. An individual’s parents might have suffered from addiction or the trait can run in the family. For others, addiction develops based on their environment. However, they might have already had the addiction gene and their environment merely furthered the development. In this blog we will take a look at the two factors and answer the question, “is addiction genetic or environmental?”

How Is Addiction Genetic?

Again, addiction is not a choice. Despite what many people still might think, a person who is suffering from addiction can’t simply decide to stop using one day and it just happens. If that were the case, addiction wouldn’t exist in our society. For those suffering from addiction, there is a genetic makeup that makes them more likely to get addicted to something than others. This could be drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or more non-traditional addictions such as food or even exercise. 

Addiction, just like many other hereditary diseases, can run in a person’s family. As a result, looking at a person’s family history can help them determine if they are more prone to addiction than others. While it’s not a forgone conclusion, if you have a direct relative who suffers from addiction, such as a parent, grandparent, etc, then you may be more likely to have that “addiction gene” as well. 

How Does Environment Factor Into This?

Just because a person might be more susceptible to addiction due to their genetic makeup doesn’t automatically mean they are going to become an addict. A person’s environment can also be a significant contributing factor to the development of addiction. Every day, we make choices that can impact our lives, and addiction is no different. For a person who might already have that “addiction gene”, there are a variety of environmental factors that can help trigger said gene. These environmental factors include things such as:

  • Religion
  • Culture
  • Economic status
  • Exposure to substances
  • Social or societal pressure
  • Ease as which a person can get illicit substances

As you can imagine, those who are exposed to things like drugs and alcohol at an early age may be more likely to develop a substance abuse issue than others. The same can be said for someone who spends a lot of time in settings where illicit substances are being used. If a person surrounds themselves with people who constantly use and abuse drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to do the same. This can be particularly dangerous for people who have addiction run in their families.

While a person might not be able to choose to become addicted to something, they can choose to avoid situations and settings that might help contribute to the development of an addiction, especially if they know that they have genetic traits that might lead to the development of an addiction. 

Preventing Addiction From Developing

While people cannot control their genetic makeup, they can control how those genes affect them and their daily lives, to an extent. This is particularly true when it comes to that “addiction gene”. If a person knows that they have said gene or are someone who might be more susceptible to the development of an addiction, they can take preventative measures to avoid certain situations or environments that might increase their chances of developing an addiction.

For example, for a person who knows they have an addictive personality or come from a family that suffers from addiction, they might actively try and avoid places like bars or casinos in order to avoid the temptations that might arise in those environments. They might also choose to surround themselves with people who aren’t big drinkers or who don’t abuse drugs in order to not feel the societal pressures of joining in.

Getting Help for Addiction Recovery

Despite a person’s best efforts, they still might succumb to addiction. If that happens, it’s important to know that this is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s also important to remember that there are options available to get the help that you need. One of those options is to enroll in a treatment program

Before entering into a treatment program though, some individuals may need to go through a detox. Detoxing can be done at a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or even a treatment facility that also offers detox services. No matter which option you choose, it is crucial that you do not attempt to self-detox. This can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. 

Here at Orlando Treatment Solutions, we offer outpatient addiction treatment for those who suffer from substance use disorders. Whether you enroll in our PHP, IOP, or general outpatient rehab, you can find the help you need.

Is Addiction Genetic or Environmental?

At Orlando Treatment Solutions, we understand that addiction isn’t a choice and that it is a disease. We also know that battling addiction can be a scary time for not just the person suffering but for those around them as well. That’s why we offer a variety of both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs designed with each individual person in mind. That’s why we offer custom, individualized treatment plans for each person and their needs. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and could benefit from treatment, contact us today. We want everyone who comes to us to leave and go on to lead a happy, healthy, and sober life.

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