Genes might play a direct role in the development of alcoholism and drug abuse, by affecting the body's metabolism of drugs; or they might play a less direct role, by influencing a person's temperament or personality in such a way that the person becomes vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse. Everyone with a family history of alcoholism is at risk for developing alcohol abuse disorders, but males who are aggressive and extroverted are at the greatest risk. Those with an undiagnosed mental illness are equally at risk.
Children of alcoholics are said to be 4 to 8 times as likely to become alcoholics as opposed to people without family history of alcoholism. However, part of the amount of risk can be accounted for through environmental influence. Based on our current understanding, it is probable that environmental influences will be less important, than genetic influences.
We all have the genetic predisposition for addiction because there is an evolutionary advantage to that. When an animal eats a certain food that it likes, there is an advantage to associating pleasure with that food so that the animal will look for that food in the future. In other words the potential for addiction is hardwired into our brain. Everyone has eaten too much of their favorite food even though they knew it wasn't good for them.
According to Addiction.org, repeated alcohol or drug abuse can permanently rewire the brain. If there is repeated abuse of drugs or alcohol because of poor coping skills, then there will be permanent rewiring of the brain. Every time there is an abuse of alcohol, you'll strengthen the wiring associated with drinking, and then chase that buzz even more. The more the effect of alcohol is pursued, the greater the chance of eventually developing an addiction. Cross addiction occurs because all addictions work in the same part of the brain. If the brain is wired so that it is predisposed to one addiction, then it is predisposed to all addictions.
One addiction can lead to other addictions, and one drug can lead to a relapse with another drug. That's one of the consequences of a brain that's wired for addiction. Suppose the brain is addicted to cocaine. If the individual wants to stop using cocaine then they have to stop using all addictive drugs including alcohol and marijuana. The same person may never have had a problem with either of them, but if that person continues to use alcohol or marijuana, even casually, they will lead back to the drug of choice. Recovery requires total abstinence.
Let healthy coping skills be the legacy that is passed on to the children. Don't let genetics be the only legacy that is passed on to the children. The children are more likely to have an addiction because of the parent’s addiction. But their genes don't have to be their destiny. The healthy parent can help the children lead happy lives by teaching them healthy coping skills – be the one to break the cycle. Peace.
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