Scientists are still trying to uncover what causes someone to develop an addiction. Is it where we came from or is there no escaping because of a genetic component we were born with? Whatever the reason is, it is important to look at both sides of this debate as addiction is developed differently depending on our family history and the environment we grew up in.
Genes contain information on a particular human being. There are 22,333 genes that determine what color eyes you will have, hair growth, skin color, and whether or not you will get a particular illness or genetic condition. The National Human Genome Research Institute says that a person is at risk of developing a condition if it runs in the family but will not determine for sure if that person will develop an addiction. The Wall Street Journal says that male children of male alcoholics will be nine times more likely to be drinkers compared to the general population.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says that there is a 50-60% risk of genes taking into effect of becoming an alcoholic. The NIAAA believes that those of Asian descent have a specific gene that makes alcohol unpleasant where they feel flush, faint, and nauseated. There is also a gene variant that allows signals of pleasure to move quickly from one portion of the brain to the other that can cause them to drink.
The part where the debate comes in is that there are those that believe that the environment we grew up in is what makes someone develop an addiction. The University of Utah says that there is no such thing as being born with an addiction and that we need to take the triggers in a person’s life into consideration. Children can pick up habits from their parents like watching them drink every night and may ask them to fetch them a drink in the cupboard. This will help children know where the alcohol is stored. Adopted children can also mimic the behaviors of their adopted parents which proves that it is not always genetics that play a factor.
The Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association says that married women drink more than divorced women as they can be joining their husbands. We need to take into account that someone who substance abuse could be surrounded by difficult family relationships, work stress, and financial problems. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network says that one in four children who are in trauma have a higher rate of substance abuse than the general population. If they are put in a position where they are in danger most of the time, they will self medicate to deal with their feelings.
Parenting styles can also playing a key role in their child’s current or future addiction. Having an authoritarian parent can be strict and enforce punishment for a child’s wrongdoing. If they are permissive, there will be no boundaries and will let any wrongdoing their child commits slide. Neglectful parenting will mean that a parent is too busy or not around much to notice their child’s wrongdoing. Authoritative parenting will praise their children for their successes and find ways to give them guidance on how to improve more in the future. Children who grow up in that way will learn problem-solving skills and how to control and express their emotions which will help prevent them to trying drugs. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that factors in child development have a greater role in drug dependence.
Peer pressure is another factor in addiction in how when a teen’s brain has not fully matured, it will be harder for them to measure their current pleasure with the future pain they could endure. If they see their parents drinking, it can look harmless and fun. Their parents would not be in a position to tell them to stop if they are not willing to stop. There is also neuroadaptation where, according to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, exposing your brain to alcohol can damage the cells that control your behavior. When your brain changes, you will become impulsive.
It can be hard to determine whether nature or nurture is what truly develops addiction. Someone may not have intended to develop an addiction but their genes say otherwise. Someone without the gene factor can still develop an addiction if the environment around them is triggering them and there is no one telling them to stop. Genetics might help you enjoy that first sip but living with another drinker can make it even more likely.
You can try to lessen your chances of becoming an addict by only having one drink during a special occasion, sticking with water or coffee during your mealtimes, and steering clear of those who drink on a regular basis. The point is that in cases like this that are not black and white, there does not need to be one answer. Both nature and/or nurture can play a part in whether or not someone develops an addiction. By getting the right help and learning about the dangers of addiction, you will be able to recovery like others have done every day. Once you go to therapy, you will determine the true reason to your addiction and how to bounce back from it.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 888-570-7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.