Is addiction inherited? Or is it a learned behavior? For the most part, it is both. Some studies show that addiction is half genetically predisposed destiny and the other half is a response to lagging skills in decision making and coping with stress and unpleasant emotions.
Normalization of Addiction
A 2013 University of Utah study showed that children of people living with addiction are 8 times more likely to become addicted themselves. This could come from a variety of reasons. The genes are there of course, but growing up in a house with active addiction you learn certain behaviors. As children, you learn to deal with the world in certain ways from your family, especially your parents. Parents (or primary guardians) are the single most important role models in our lives. Look at the way you clean a house or how diligent you are at work- these are all things picked up subconsciously or even openly from our families. If a parent is a “functional addict” you watch them and learn from them how to live with the disease, either by embracing it, thinking “if it’s good enough for mom it’s good enough for me,” or by rejecting it and choosing to avoid using even once.
If a parent is a “non-functional addict,” you might experience higher levels of stress than someone from a family without addiction. As children, we learn to cope with life from our families. If no one shows you how to deal with stress in healthy ways, you are more prone to managing in dysfunctional ways. If your role model has an unhealthy relationship with substances, it makes sense then that you might build a habit of abuse without thinking of the consequences because it is already “normal” to you.
Different Doesn’t Mean Hopeless
Drug and alcohol abuse rewires the brain. Being born to parents with an addiction, your brain is already different than those not born to addicted parents. The rewiring is easier, and by taking up the habit of coping with stress through substance abuse, you begin closer to addiction than others. Have you ever noticed that a sponge picks up more water when it’s already wet than when it is dry? Think of your brain like that sponge. As a child of parents living with addiction, your brain is already “wet,” and ready for addiction.
The good news is, you can stop the cycle. By learning how to cope without drugs or alcohol, you address both the genetics and the lack of functional coping skills. At Fort Worth Recovery, we address both genetic predisposition and coping skills from many angles. Change your destiny, call us today at 844.332.1807 or visit us online.