Breaking the Family Cycle of Addiction

FAILURE TO ADDRESS THE family context of substance use disorders within addiction treatment is like trying to scratch the surface of a problem without examining the roots that lead to it. Sure, there's peer pressure for kids who are in school or life in general that may prompt an adult to turn to alcohol or drugs. According to research, however, family dynamics have the power to negatively or positively influence the treatment of a loved one's disorder, which also suggests that family history shapes a person's predisposition to addiction.

If my parents have a substance use disorder, does that mean I'll have it too?

Genes play a large role in the way your body processes the ingestion of alcohol and other drugs, but the environment in which you were raised plays an equally large, if not larger, role in predicting your susceptibility to substance buse addiction. There are sets of "substance-specific" genes and other genes that render you vulnerable to addictive behavior in general, but your DNA alone does not account for addiction. In childhood, environmental factors such as parental monitoring and peer pressure shape a child's predisposition; in adulthood, gender is factored into an individual's genetic sensitivity to life's stressors such as demands of relationships.