Do Genes Play a Role in Addiction?

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Addiction can be the result of poor decision making and certain environmental factors, but do genetics play a role in the onset of substance abuse?

You may be wondering why certain people develop addictions while others don’t and there can be a combination of factors that lead up to a full-blown addiction. Those who are constantly surrounded by drugs and alcohol would have a higher risk of trying these drugs for the first time. The addiction experts at Banyan Treatment Center explain how genes and addiction are related and who is more susceptible to developing a long-term issue. Our drug rehab in Chicago provides customized addiction treatment for all who suffer from this terrible disease.

Nature vs. Nurture

Addiction is a complex disease that in most cases doesn’t discriminate between people. The constant debate regarding nature vs nurture can be applied to discussions on how an addiction develops. Are environmental factors such as exposure to drugs and alcohol or negative influences be the main reason for the onset of addiction? This is where genes come into play. According to University of Utah’s Genetic Learning Center, addiction is actually influenced by genes.1 “Addiction genes” can be analyzed for biological differences that make someone more susceptible to addiction. Certain people may have a harder time quitting the substance abuse because of certain genes. There have been numerous studies on animals to determine how genes and addiction are linked. It’s also important to note that since genes are inevitably passed down from one generation to the next, addiction can run in the family. Even though genes play a role in addiction, the nature vs. nurture debate still applies.

The Impact that Genes Have on Addiction

Researchers have conducted numerous studies on mice and fruit flies to determine the specific genes that relate directly to addiction. According to the Genetic Learning Center, mice lacking the serotonin receptor gene Htr1b are more attracted to cocaine and alcohol. Also, mice with low levels of neuropeptide Y drink more alcohol, whereas those with higher levels tend to abstain. Because of these findings, researchers can determine specific drugs that would help the treatment process prove successful for specific individuals.
If you or your loved one is battling addiction and can’t seem to break the cycle, help is available. Banyan Treatment Center provides addiction treatment in Chicago and we can help anyone overcome this disease.

Contact us today at 888-280-4763 for more information on the customized addiction treatment programs we provide.

[1] Genetic Science Learning Center, Genes and Addiction


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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.