Is Addiction Hereditary?

Is Addiction Hereditary?

Where does addiction really come from? Does it run in the family, or is it caused by social factors? These questions are common for many people who aren’t very familiar with addiction, and even some that are.
In short, addiction is partly hereditary. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “at least half of a person’s susceptibility to drug or alcohol addiction can be linked to genetic factors.” However, there are many other contributors to substance abuse disorders.
So how much do hereditary factors really have to do with addiction? We’ll break it down to help you understand the many contributors and how much of an effect they may have:

What is Addiction?

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Simply, addiction is compulsive substance abuse despite consequences that may arise from it. People begin using for a number of reasons whether it be to feel better, to get high or drunk, or because of curiosity. They may then develop a craving for and dependence on the drug, which can cause harmful changes in how the brain functions.
Substance use becomes an addiction when an individual allows the drug to take over their lives. Addictive drugs include alcohol, hallucinogenics, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, marijuana, cocaine, and tobacco.
Here are some possible symptoms and signs of addiction:
  • Craving or urge for the drug
  • Social problems, such as loss of work or issues in personal relationships
  • Inability to cut down on how often they use the drug
  • Risky use of the drug
Abuse disorders can also cause distorted body functions, thinking, and behaviors. But how do you determine where the root of the problem is?

Genetics VS. Environment & Trauma

As we all now know, there are many contributing risk factors when it comes to addiction. Not one person is solely affected by one thing; instead, it’s a combination of multiple things that can result in addictive behaviors.
Most risk factors of substance abuse disorders have something to do with biology, one’s environment, or trauma. Here are some risks that come with each category:


  • Responsible for about 40-60% of addiction risk according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Mental illness (ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, etc.) can be hereditary & lead to substance abuse.
  • Men may be more likely to have a higher rate of dependence, but women are more likely to develop a craving for the drug.


  • Childhood interactions (neighborhood, school peers) may lead to individuals being surrounded by the drug at an early age.
  • Family and friends play a huge role — those who see loved ones using may be more likely to use


  • Individuals who have gone through trauma might have a higher risk of developing substance abuse.
  • Going through trauma may reduce one’s coping ability, which could later lead to using drugs.

The Base of Addiction

Long story short, hereditary factors do have a lot to do with addiction. But meanwhile, there are many other environmental and traumatic factors that may be just as instrumental in forming substance abuse disorders.

One’s life experiences, relationships, and biological factors alike may play equal parts in addiction. That’s why it’s extremely important to keep an open communication with yourself and others in all stages of your life. If you think you or a loved one may have a substance abuse disorder and would like to seek treatment to discover the causes, please call Silver Pines today at 267.209.7313.

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