If you are born into a family with a history of alcohol or drug addiction, then you have a greater risk of becoming an addict too. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), studies have shown that 40%-60% of the predisposition to addiction can be attributed to genetics. Addiction is due 50% to genetic predisposition and 50% to poor coping skillsThis has been confirmed by many different studies. One study was conducted involving 861 identical twin pairs and 653 fraternal twin pairs. When one identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin had a high probability of being addicted. But when one fraternal twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin did not necessarily have an addiction. 

Another study shows that the children of addicts are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction. This report looked at 231 people who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction. The study compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Then the researchers looked at the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) of those people. They discovered that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an 8 times greater chance of developing an addiction.

This is why it’s important to learn about your genetic components because there is not just one addiction gene. DNA and brains of addicts show genetic predispositions to abuse of specific drugs because of how they interact with the user’s neurochemistry especially with alcohol.

Humans all have genetic predisposition for addiction because of an evolutionary advantage. For example, when an animal eats a certain food that it likes, it associates pleasure with that type of food. That animal will go searching for the food, because it remembers feeling pleasure. This is the same concept for a drug addict. When a person tries a drug for the first time, they will most likely feel a “high”. They associate the drug with pleasure. If the addict continues to use the drug, their brain will eventually rewire itself. It will compensate for the added chemicals induced by the drug by producing less natural chemicals. As this change takes place, the drug user will have a more difficult time feeling pleasure without using his/her drug of choice.

Contributed by Guest Blogger Kellie Moon