How Can Addiction Run in a Family?

How Can Addiction Run in a Family?

How Can Addiction Run in a Family?

Substance addiction disrupts a person’s life. There’s no particular reason that suggests it develops as a result of experimentation with drugs or alcohol. In many cases, not only society or the environment contributes to the development of addiction. Family and genetics can be responsible for the onset of substance abuse. According to Rutgers researchers, substance addiction is 50-70% heritable.

If you’re wondering, can addiction run in a family? The answer is yes. Substance misuse runs in families with several causes. Some persons have a genetic predisposition to substance abuse, making them prone to dependence. Others are at a higher risk of addiction due to family influences. 

Atlas Healthcare Group can help you find behavioral health treatment in California. Contact us today to find the best treatment centers near you.

Can Addiction Run in a Family?

It is widely accepted that substance addiction runs in the family, caused by factors like genetics and the environment. These two work hand-in-hand but can influence addiction independently.


Several pieces of evidence have suggested that genetic influence on addiction is massive. Individuals raised by parents that normalize substance misuse are more likely to have drug or alcohol addiction problems later in life. It means addiction is heritable.

Family history also contributes to the development of substance abuse. For example, if a close relative has struggled with drug or alcohol addiction, the children, nephews, or nieces could have the disorder. Genes may increase one’s vulnerability to addiction. It happens due to genetic mutation, which explains the changes in the brain’s structure and processes. This affects how an individual responds to exposure to drugs or alcohol. They may have an impulsive character or become temperamental, which may increase their use of using.

Apart from that, anxiety and depression can be a motivating factor to use these substances. Alcohol and drugs provide relief. Therefore, people battling stress and anxiety may use drugs or alcohol to escape their present realities. While medical research acknowledges genetic addiction, it is yet to determine the exact gene responsible for it due to environmental factors that help to shape substance misuse.


Genetics may be a pivotal factor in developing substance addiction in a family, but the environment plays an equal role. Living among people who aren’t your family and normalizing alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of addiction. Growing up in neighborhoods where people are commonly under the influence and liquor stores are filled to the brim will give young people the impression that alcohol and drugs are normal.

An abnormally stressful environment can also influence addiction. Families who live in this kind of environment have an unpredictable lifestyle and exhibit erratic behaviors. Children exposed to these traits pick them up and form patterns of behaviors that are often self-inflicting. Child abuse is prevalent in these families. Because these children are predisposed to these environments, their emotional development is hindered. They quickly become overwhelmed by emotions and constricted in responding to stressful situations. They resort to defensive actions, such as self-medicating and withdrawing. Children of these families enter adulthood with emotional baggage, which affects their work, school, and romantic relationships.

Note that a person may still come out clean and responsible even if the family has a history of substance addiction or grew up in an environment with an astronomical rate of drug and alcohol abuse. Conversely, some people may still suffer from addiction later in life, even though the family has no history of addiction. Many people have used their experiences as motivation to curb substance abuse. Besides, there are no guarantees that a person who used it once will continue using it. Individuals may experiment with some substances and fall ill when they try, causing them to discontinue. Genetic and environmental predisposition only means the risk of developing addiction is high.

Apart from genetics and the environment, other factors contributing to the development of addiction include co-occurring mental health conditions, and stressful situations, such as divorce or the loss of someone.

Treating Addiction in Families

Now that we have answered your question, can addiction run in the family? Can addiction in families be treated? Yes, treatment is possible, regardless of the cause of substance addiction. Rehab centers in the United States provide comprehensive care that addresses the causes of addiction and safe methods to stop using. Treatments will vary considerably, depending on the type of substance abuse and length. Typically, the treatment process begins as follows;

The doctor or addiction specialist assesses the type of substance and severity of the symptoms to determine the best course of treatment.

  • Medical detox and effective monitoring follow through
  • The specialist schedules personal therapy to ascertain the treatment goals and curate a plan
  • Group therapy follows to help the patient connect with others and build a supportive network to aid recovery
  • Alternative therapies may be used to identify any other issue that may hinder progress
  • Holistic treatments are next in line. They address all the aspects affected by substance abuse
  • Aftercare follows through to ensure a smooth transition to the outside world

Atlas Healthcare Group Can Help

Atlas Healthcare Group is a family of treatment centers equipped with experienced staff and facilities to help with addiction in families. We offer various holistic treatments and therapies tailored to each patient. We also provide different levels of care according to the patient’s needs. Contact us to learn more about addiction treatment options in California.

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