Is Addiction Genetic?

March 1, 2017 199 23 No Comments


Is It Me?… Or My Family?

Substance addiction is a chronic, complex brain disease, influenced by several biological, environmental, and psychological factors, one that can very well destroy lives. Some might say they inherited an addiction because of the people they grew up with. However, most people may find that reasoning to be inexcusable and that person’s peers may believe other people have unnecessary control over his or her life, and rightfully so. Yet, do substance addictions really occur because of environmental factors or is it because of genetics? So first we must answer the very basic question of nature vs. nurture, which one really controls us? Current research shows that substance addiction can be due to both genetic factors and environmental elements.


Why does Addiction happen?

Many of you may be wondering why addiction can happen to anyone. There are many reasons why some of us abuse illegal substances. Some may be pressured into trying illegal substances or show their friends that they are not afraid to try them. Some may use substances to rid themselves of pain, both physically and emotionally, and others may use simply just because it feels good, and this is an occurring problem that we see every single day. But evidence shows that genetics account for 50% of the risk and development of a substance addiction ( NCADD, 2015).  Although genetics alone is not a valid precursor of an addiction, the presence, or lackthereof, can determine whether someone may be more vulnerable to developing a substance dependency. In order to fully understand addiction, it is essential to educate ourselves on the mechanisms behind drug dependency, which can be found in the extensive research on addiction.


 Is there evidence?

Yes! Absolutely! Of course! There is so much evidence to show the different factors that can cause a substance addiction. There are many books and articles that show different relationships on substance abuse which can explain the cause and the intensity of the abuse, as well as the many treatment options available. The current literature has provided evidence to suggest that substance dependency is inheritable. Such as studies on twins, siblings, and relatives that demonstrate a clear relationship between genetics and substance dependence. Some studies have even identified specific genes that are involved in the development of an addiction and doctors are adamant that those with certain DNA markers must be careful to avoid addiction at all times.

A Neurotransmitter that Satisfies You!

We all want satisfaction and pleasure. Who doesn’t? The neurotransmitter that is active in people that have a drug addiction is dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for feeling pleasure and motivation and when a person abuses a certain substance continuously, it usually gives that person intense pleasure. As the pleasure increases, the dopamine does as well, increasing the want and need for more!


Many believe that utilizing illegal substances can alleviate stress. Thus, abusing it can lead to the harming of others, as well as oneself, and is often responsible for the destruction of lives all across the United States. While biological, environmental, and psychological factors are all causes of substance addiction, genetics play an overwhelming role in substance abuse. Although identified as a brain disease, addiction, as with most diseases, can be both prevented and treated.


For more Information: To learn more about substance addiction visit the websites or view one of our many videos with experts at



National Council of Alcohol and Drug Dependence Inc. (2015).

 Hicks B. M., Iacono W. G., & McGue M. (2012). Index of the transmissible

common liability to addiction: heritability and prospective

associations with substance abuse and related outcomes. Drug

Alcohol Department, 123, S18–S23. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.12.017

 Hill, S. Y., Jones, B. L., Zezza, N., & Stiffler, S. (2013). Family-based association analysis of alcohol dependence implicates KIAA0040 on Chromosome 1q in multiplex alcohol dependence families. Open Journal of Genetics, 3(4), 243.doi:10.4236/ojgen.2013.34027

Vanyukov, M., Kim, K., Irons, D., Kirisci, L., Neale, M., Ridenour, T., & McGue, M. (2015).

Genetic relationship between the addiction diagnosis in adults and their childhood measure of addiction liability. Behavior Genetics, 45(1), 1-11.                                             doi:10.1007/s10519-014-9684-4

 Zuo L., Gelernter J., Zhang C. K., Zhao H., Lu L., et al. (2012). Genome-wide association study of alcohol dependence implicates KIAA0040 on Chromosome 1q. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37, 557–566. doi:10.1038/npp.2011.229.

Liked it? Take a second to support Austin Armstrong on Patreon!