If you have struggled with addiction or have an addict in your family, you probably know that most people don’t understand the way addiction works. Many people think a person’s tendency toward becoming addicted is simply associated with willpower, rather than with the many risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to the issue. One of the most severe risk factors associated with addiction—and with recovery as well—is genetics.
Dr. Hadi Estakhri, or Dr. E as his patients know him, and the rest of us at his Newport Beach, California, practice understand the subtleties associated with addiction risk and recovery, and we are ready to help you learn more about the genetic factors that cause it.
There is a misconception about addiction that causes many of the stigmas addicted people have to battle on a day-to-day basis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many people believe that addiction is the result of a lack of morality or a lack of strength on the part of the addicted individual. The truth is that addiction is the result of many risk factors, including environmental, developmental, and genetic factors.
Our genetics define us in many ways. While they don’t determine everything, decades of research have proven that people with addiction in their families are more likely to become addicts themselves. In addition, those with a genetic predisposition toward addiction who also deal with environmental factors, such as poverty, and developmental factors, such as being around drugs and alcohol at an early age, have a much higher chance of becoming addicts than those who do not experience these factors (or who only experience one of them).
Your genetic factors aren’t the only reasons you might become an addict, but it’s important to be aware of them so you can keep yourself in check. For example, if you know you have a predisposition to addiction, it’s important to always be aware of your substance use and to take more precautions than others to prevent addiction.
It might be frightening to hear that your genetics can affect your likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. You may start to feel that this issue cannot be prevented if you are already predisposed to it. This is untrue, however. Some people have to avoid drinking alcohol altogether, but it’s still possible to avoid becoming an alcoholic if your parents were also drinkers.
But what happens if you do become an addict? Does this mean there’s no hope?
Of course not. Addiction, like other chronic relapsing disorders such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, can be treated, even if it cannot be fully cured. The truth is, though, addiction treatment needs to be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of each patient for the same reasons that addiction can strike one person and not another: genetics.
Your genetic makeup can determine if you will respond to a certain treatment or not. So can your developmental and environmental factors. Just like with the process of becoming an addict, these factors all play a part in the treatment of addiction.
Your genetics will always be a part of your substance abuse history and recovery, but this shouldn’t stop you from being able to live a productive, happy life free from drug abuse. Once you start to understand your genetics and how they play a role in addiction and recovery, your ability to avoid further substance abuse and to live your life will start to become easier.
You can set up an appointment with Dr. E at our Newport Beach, CA, office by calling 949-258-7135 or by requesting an appointment online. Now is the time to start your life over again and change your behavior toward substance abuse and addiction for the better.