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Is Addiction Hereditary?

Updated on February 22, 2017

What is Addiction?

According to Dictionary. com addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice. A substance or act that is psychologically or physically habit-forming; to such an extent that its cessation causes trauma.

Simply stated, addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests any substance deemed "addictive" or engages in an activity that causes the reward center of the brain to activate.

Addiction Comes In All Forms

Gambling, overeating, excessive exercise, and durg use to name a few.

Exercise Addiction Facts

The Cycle of Addiction

Can I Become Addicted the First Time?

Not necessarily, you can but not usually; more often then not the addict enjoys the feeling associated with the substance. So the addict continues to abuse the substance simply because of the euphoric feeling they associated with it's first use.

As a person continues to use the substance or engage in the behavior their body starts to recognize the substance, and the "good" feelings associated with it; thus causing the physical, mental, and emotional addiction.

The pattern repeats itself until someone feels they are unable to live, or function without the substance or habit and that leads them to the root of addiction.

Substance Abuse: Heroin Addicts

Is Repetitive Use Responsible for Addiction ?

With repetitive use or engagement in addicting behaviors a persons behavior(s) often becomes impulsive and interferes with a his or her daily responsibilities. The addict feels the intense need within his or her body that they MUST use or partake in the addicting substance or activity in order to surivie and curb their bodies cravings for their addiction of choice.

Whether it be substance abuse, alcohol abuse, or other addictive behaviors it's repetition that causes the "high" feelings associated with all addictions.

Who Gets Addicted to Gambling?

Addictive Personalites and Risk Factors for Addiction

A person who exhibits addictive personality traits are more likely to become addicted to behaviors or drug use. Some of these personality traits include:

  • Family history of addiction.
  • Mental disorders.
  • Surrounded by others engaging in the activity.

Dr. West: Addiction and Families

Is Addiction Hereditary?

The good old nature vs. nurture debate suggests that some of our traits are biologically inherited from our parents and others are learned from our environment. In theory a person should be "made up" of inherited traits combined with traits learned growing up in his or her environment.

Science has taken major steps towards proving that addiction and addictive personalities do run in families. Which suggests that addiction is hereditary in some aspect.

Addiction Both Heriditary and Enviromental

As human beings we are molded by every experience we have in life. So if we witness our loved ones engaging in a behavior we tend to accept this behavior as good or the right response to a given situation. It isn't until we mature and realize that not every behavior we ever witnessed is acceptable in society.

Addiction being categorized as a disease, makes it easy to say that just like diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer, etc. human beings are genetically prone to addiction.

© 2012 Rfordin


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    • profile image

      Thomas 3 years ago

      I appreciate your kind and genoures advice a lot!. I have been trying it hardly and did not get those amazing results!. It is nice to see that you got my comment in a good way!God bless you!VA:F [1.9.10_1130]please wait VA:F [1.9.10_1130](from 0 votes)

    • abbykorinnelee profile image

      Abigayle Malchow 5 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

      Genetics are an important factor when considering Addiction. There are genes that make you more or less vulnerable to an addiction and can be hereditary. There is significant evidence that supports the claim. Once you start if you have the "more addictive" gene than its harder for you to stop than others; and you may notice the trend among family members.

      However, it doesn't "doom" you to a life of addiction. Just as nature (or genetics) plays a role so does your environment..the classic nature vs nurture debate:)

      Being susceptible to addiction actually isn't one gene either, its the interactions of many different genes.

      "The A1 allele of the dopamine receptor gene DRD2 is more common in people addicted to alcohol or cocaine Increased expression of the Mpdz gene results in mice experiencing less severe withdrawal symptoms from sedative-hypnotic drugs such as barbiturates Non-smokers are more likely than smokers to carry a protective gene, CYP2A6, which causes them to feel more nausea and dizziness from smoking Alcoholism is rare in people with two copies of the ALDH*2 gene variation"

      This is the information I got in a lecture in an abnormal psych class

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      When I was a kid, I remember one of my parents explaining that several other family members were/had been alcoholics and how it was important to remember that I might be more prone to alcoholism, but I could always choose (like my parents) to deny that heritage. Maybe. Funny thing to say to a kindergartner, but I've always remembered that conversation.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Tammy,

      I tend to think that we are all addicted to something in one way or another. I just like to think that the majority of us use those addictive tendencies for "good" rather than harmful things. I know I'm addicted to Hubpages, and a bunch of other things that are not harmful (but have the potential to be).

      Anyway thanks for stopping by and seeing me!


    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Very interesting. I have always wondered if this was possible. I have always been cautious and not addicted to anything just in case. Great hub~!

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Your idea of alcohol and drinking socially is spot on. I think that addiction in and of itself is hereditary...almost like an "addictive gene" or addictive personality. In that sense family members could all be addcited to something wether it be food, alcohol, drugs, etc. Of course it goes without saying being addicted to anything has it's faults the old adage "to much of a good thing" comes to mind. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Very interesting read. I know people who don't know when to stop drinking and that is a pretty ugly thing at the end of the night. I have been drunk a few times but am not much of a drinker, however, I do sometimes think I am addicted to certain foods - which can be just as bad. As for it being hereditary, it is strange that you find alcoholism runs in families; I think maybe it's more prevalent because it is something we can all do socially and it is completely acceptable.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Very interesting Hub about addiction. I've often wondered about this because I have seen so many families where it does seem to be true, or at least the family members have the tendency to become addicts in some way.

      Voted this UP, etc.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

      Interesting article - and thought-provoking comments!

    • profile image 5 years ago

      enjoyed reading this thanks Rfordin- a great reminder - I suppose everyone has some form of addiction - even shopping can be addictive - how we deal with the daily grind and make life more pleasurable can sometimes end up making it more destructive!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      Very good article, I have seen people who have come from homes where they was an addiction of some sort, and go out of their way to ensure that their family is caught up with an addiction and have to suffer in the same way. All depends on the person and their experience. Voted up and interesting. Thank you.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Billy,

      As I mentioned to Joe I don't drink often therefore when I do drink it's to get DRUNK (which usually winds up very bad) so I deifnitly can see I have addictive tendencies.....

      Another interesitng thing to point out although only semi-relevant is that I was adopted by my family at birth and neither of my adoptive parents are addicts. However I have the potential to be an addict in many areas of my life..... I did get to meet my biological family (all 6 of them) and they all seem to be addicts in some nature. So as a case study personally I would fall under the argument that addiction IS hereditary.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 5 years ago

      You're welcome and I agree with what you stated.

      God bless.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks' for stopping by and readin teacher (Im gonna take a guess that your name is Joe?).

      I tend to be a social drinker in the aspect of I drink occasionally. However when I do drink I tend to get very drunk - not just a "few" drinks with friends I drink to get plastered. So I can kinda understand your "one drink - game over" comment.

      I totally agree about men and woman coming from abused families and growing up to be great parents. Often times their "drive" is they way they were raised and not wanting to do the same to their children.

      On the flip side often times children who are absued growing up can be absuers later on. I guess it's all in the way we as individuals take our learning experiences. We either learn from them an change our ways to refelct those lessons or we continue the patterns we learned as a child.

      Thanks again "Joe" for stopping by!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great job of looking at the problem. For me, it makes no difference how addiction is classified; I have proven time and time again that I cannot have alcohol.

    • teacherjoe52 profile image

      teacherjoe52 5 years ago

      Interesting thing is it is in the genes.

      There are a lot of alcoholics in my family.

      My brother can have a social drink. I cannot. One drink and it;s game over.

      Our social exposure is also limited.

      I have seen men and women that have come from abused families that are great parents.

      Good article.