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How Your Genetics Affect Your Risk of Addiction

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genetics and addictionAccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 50% of your risk of drug or alcohol dependency is based on your unique genetic makeup.

Like your environment, genetic disposition is yet another contributing factor that makes you more or less prone to addiction than other people. Here’s how it works:

Without getting too complicated, experts believe that many mental illnesses, including addiction, are linked to abnormalities in your genes. Exposing these genes to environmental factors such as stress, abuse, trauma or chemical substances sometimes triggers a mental illness in those who have inherited genetic susceptibility.

Find Out If Substance Abuse Runs in Your Family

Think about your relatives, starting with your immediate family members. Are any of them currently struggling with addiction? Has anyone had a problem with drugs, alcohol or other substances in the past? If so, may be likely to experience addiction yourself.

But what if you don’t know your family medical history very well? This is more common than you might think, especially when it comes to substance abuse.

Because of the strong negative stigma of addiction, families sometimes hide addictions or brush them off. While it may be difficult for your family members to discuss this sensitive topic with you, don’t give up. Understanding your family’s history with drug or alcohol dependency can offer valuable new insight into your personal struggle with substance abuse.

Tips for Starting the Conversation

Choose a comfortable, neutral environment – Your loved ones may feel defensive when you approach this subject. A relaxed environment can help put everyone at ease, making it more comfortable to speak openly. Make sure to choose a safe, positive place where you can speak privately and without interruptions. This is a step in treatment that you can explore with your therapist.

Be clear about what you want to know – Often the best way to approach a difficult conversation is to be clear and direct about what you hope to learn. Try to be specific and thorough. Who is struggling with addiction? To what is the person addicted? When was the addiction first discovered? Has the person sought treatment, and was it effective?

Your Genetics Don’t Define You

With or without a family history of drug or alcohol dependency, The Raleigh House is here to help you recover. Our holistic approach will help you identify and address problematic behavioral patterns, emotional issues, interpersonal difficulties, as well as any traumatic life events that could be contributing to your addictions.

When you’re ready to start, The Raleigh House is ready to help. Call us today.

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