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The Role of Genetics in Substance Abuse and Addiction

The Role of Genetics in Substance Abuse and Addiction

There are many things that can lead to alcohol and drug addiction, but surprisingly, your genetics can play a big role in your susceptibility to substance abuse

At Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health Counseling & Evaluation Services, Inc. in Honolulu, Hawaii, we are proud to offer substance abuse treatment to help you on your journey. Here is some information on how genetics play a part in addiction and how we help you battle it.

Genetics and substance abuse

We inherit a lot of things from our biological parents, including eye color, hair color, and even elements of our personalities. Unfortunately, substance addiction can be inherited as well. 

If one biological parent possesses genes associated with substance addiction, there is a strong chance they may pass these genes on, increasing the likelihood of their child developing an addiction as well. For example, studies show children of alcoholic parents have an increased chance of developing an alcohol addiction themselves. 

Dopamine regulation

While investigating the specific genes associated with substance abuse, researchers discovered a gene that regulates dopamine differently in people who suffer from substance abuse compared to non-substance users. This means that if you possess this gene, you may be more prone to addiction, even if you don't suffer from addiction at the moment.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps your brain feel pleasure and joy. Several things can cause your nervous system to send dopamine through your body, including:

While some of the above activities can be harmless in moderation, if they become a habit or things you can’t live without, you can become addicted. Alcohol and drug addiction can be difficult to manage once you depend on them to feel good. 

Environmental vs. genetic causes 

Many people use substances like marijuana and alcohol without ever becoming addicted. This is because the probability of marijuana and alcohol intake becoming an addiction is more likely due to your genetics. Scientists find that environmental factors do play a part in one turning to drugs and alcohol, but genetic factors play a larger part than environmental factors overall. 

Twin studies

In order to determine the effect of environmental factors versus genetic factors, scientists often use ‘twin studies.’ These studies involve identical twins and non-identical twins, as this is the easiest way to find differences and similarities between people with the same genes and people with different genes.

Throughout these studies, researchers conclude that a lot of alcohol and marijuana substance abuse is a result of genetics

Substance abuse treatment

Here at Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health Counseling & Evaluation Services, we provide treatment for substance abuse, no matter what the cause. 

We offer different types of services tailored to your needs. After an initial consultation, we may recommend treatments such as:

To get help with your substance addiction, call Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health Counseling & Evaluation Services, Inc. at 808-400-5004 to book an appointment today. You can also book online or use our online contact form to request more information for yourself or a loved one. 

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