Addiction is a devastating disease that affects entire families. Having even one family member diagnosed with a drug or alcohol addiction has a myriad of profound effects. It is common for individuals to view addiction as a hereditary disease. While addiction does, indeed, carry a genetic component, many factors can contribute to the development of addiction. Becoming familiar with these factors can help individuals better understand the full picture of addiction.
The Genetic Side of Addiction
Not only is it common for entire families to be affected by an individual’s addiction to drugs or alcohol, but also for multiple people within a family to be diagnosed with the disease. There is a genetic component to addiction, with a parent being able to pass on a genetic predisposition to addiction in their children.
Children of parents who have been diagnosed with addiction, even if they are maintaining their sobriety, can be at an increased risk of developing an addiction themselves. In this case, addiction can develop after only a few uses of an addictive substance.
However, it is always possible to develop an addiction to any kind of substance or behavior, regardless of whether an individual has a genetic predisposition. Likewise, not having a genetic predisposition to the disease does not make a person “immune” to it.
Having a parent who has been diagnosed with the disease does not necessarily mean that a child is guaranteed to develop an addiction to any particular substance or behavior. Still, it does indicate that additional care and education are necessary to prevent the development of this destructive disease. In either case, proper precautions and attitudes must be surfaced addressing the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The Other Factors of Addiction
Addiction is a complex disease. No single factor alone ever dictates the development of the disease. Rather, the development of addiction involves many different factors. Recognizing both genetic and non-genetic elements that inform the use of addictive substances is necessary for taking effective steps to address the risk of addiction.
Living in a household with a family member diagnosed with addiction is incredibly difficult and can be especially dangerous for the children of parents diagnosed with addiction. Not only can a child be genetically predisposed to developing the disease, but this kind of exposure to addictive substances at a young age can also shape the perspectives and attitudes surrounding these substances. Seeing alcohol or drugs being used can normalize the practice in children and create dangerous impressions that can further inform their own use of addictive substances.
Exposure or access to addictive substances is just one part of the environment. Environments can also be incredibly stressful, with feelings of neglect, abuse, living in separated households, and more also carrying intense and profound effects for inhabitants. Childhood traumas and experiences can also inform the attitudes surrounding the use of drugs or alcohol, making the environment a major factor in the use and abuse of addictive substances.
The Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders and addiction often inform each other, with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more all informing the use of addictive substances. Meanwhile, some of these mental health disorders can carry genetic components themselves, creating an even more complex relationship.
Mental health disorders may inform the use of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with their effects, just as the use of addictive substances can bring feelings of anxiety, depression, and more, creating a dangerous cycle. The prevalence of mental health disorders combined with a genetic predisposition for developing addiction can make it difficult to effectively process these feelings in a healthy way. Professional treatment programs in Hawaii are necessary to address how these two factors may continue to inform each other.
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Creating a Plan
There is no easy way to overcome addiction and its effects on an individual and their children. Talking about addiction, any past diagnoses, and addressing the prevalence of additional factors is paramount for recovery. For parents, being open and willing to discuss their journey with addiction, recovery, and more are all important to ensure that children are informed and aware of any inherited genetic risks.
Keeping addictive substances out of the house and out of view, actively limiting an individual’s own intake, developing healthy strategies for processing stress, anxiety, and depression, and addressing dangerous celebratory habits are all part of creating a plan to prevent the development of addiction, especially for those who may be at a higher risk for the disease. For parents navigating their own recovery while raising a child, familial education, programming, communication strategies, and more are all important skills to develop.
Building stress-relief outlets and resilience from a young age can help alleviate some of the stresses involved with preventing the onset of addiction. However, while these strategies can be instrumental in preventing children from turning to the use of drugs or alcohol, there is no way to wholly make an individual immune to the possibility of addiction. Constantly addressing the topic, creating strategies, and remaining educated on the inherent risks involved are necessary to create a healthy and sober lifestyle.
Addiction is a devastating disease, and understanding the potential hereditary risks and the environmental factors and mental health disorders that may further inform the development of addiction is crucial. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the complex nature of recovery, and our comprehensive approach to rehab in Hawaii addresses not only the direct effects of addiction but also the underlying factors involved in a truly transformative recovery program. From dedicated detox and inpatient treatment to ongoing outpatient support, we can create a plan that addresses the environmental, social, and genetic sides of addiction in tandem for effective treatment. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.