Is Addiction Hereditary?

treatment for alcohol addiction

Addiction is a major health problem, both mentally and physically. In fact, it is probably one of the most complicated illnesses to manage because it is has to be dealt with on both a physical and psychological level. Approximately one in eight adults struggle with drug and alcohol addiction at the same time and many are also struggling with a mental health disorder as well. American drug addiction statistics show that substance dependence is also becoming more prevalent among teenagers and children in the United States.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a serious issue. Common types of addiction involve drugs, alcohol, or even gambling or video gaming. Some health experts have described addiction as a chronic relapsing psychiatric disorder that causes the compulsive and uncontrollable use of an activity or drug. There are three phenomena that characterize addiction: craving, binging, and withdrawal. But, just knowing what addiction is does not help you kick the habit, whatever it may be. 

Checking Your Family Background

Knowing that you have addiction in your family can actually make things easier as it gives you and your mental health caregiver a place to start. There is quite a bit of evidence that leads experts to believe that there is a connection between genes and addiction just as there is a connection between genes and mental health. According to the experts at Harvard, genes shape your temperament such as impulsiveness, anxiousness, and response to stress. In fact, your genes are what shape how you absorb and break down addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. They also determine how you respond to the substance and whether or not you will be more susceptible to becoming addicted. 

Connecting the Dots

While the experts have yet to make a complete connection that can help in treating addiction, it is helpful to know what your susceptibilities are and whether or not you are likely to become addicted. If you are genetically susceptible, your therapist can help you learn to avoid certain substances, behaviors, and situations that may put you at risk of relapsing once you have found your path to recovery. Whether you are going to see a mental health professional in person or having online counseling, it is important to tell your therapist as much as you know about your family history. 

Talk About Your Childhood

Even if you do not have a relative with an obvious drug or alcohol addiction, you may not even realize that one of them has an addiction or habit that nobody knows about. In fact, your family member may not even know that they are addicted either. Sitting down with a mental health professional and talking about your childhood, family members, and anything else you can remember may help. Even the smallest detail could be the key to helping you get on the road to recovery and stay there. Talk to a professional today and see whether or not your addiction is hereditary and what you can do about it. 


Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.