Genetics and Addiction - Drug Addiction

Can your genes make you susceptible to addiction? This is a question asked by many researchers and healthcare professionals who believe that some people have genetic tendencies which predispose them towards addiction.

This is by no means conclusive but studies do suggest that certain people have brains which are hard wired towards a desire for certain substances, e.g. alcohol or their metabolism breaks down substances in a particular way.

You may have inherited a gene which stimulates a craving for an illicit substance or means that you are drawn towards certain substances. Your need to satisfy cravings or a desire, e.g. nicotine addiction due to cigarette smoking is said to be dominant in you.

Does addiction run in families?

Drug, alcohol or smoking can run in families but this doesn’t automatically mean that you will do the same. Many people grow up in these environments and end up leading healthy lifestyles so it isn’t set in stone.

But, if either of your parents smoke or drink to excess then there is an increased risk of you adopting the same behaviour. Evidence shows that if you have parents who are addicts then you may become an addict yourself or find it difficult to resist the cravings and so repeatedly use a substance. The withdrawal symptoms may be much stronger in you which make it that much harder to quit.

Other contributing factors include learned behaviour, peer pressure and your environment.

If you grow up in a house where addiction is condoned or even encouraged then you are at risk of doing the same. UK Drug Rehab ( state that your genes plus these other factors can contribute as much as 60% of the risk of developing an addiction.

It is as well to be aware that there may be a risk but it is also important to realise that it may never happen. Having a genetic tendency towards addiction doesn’t mean that you will develop into an addict just that you may do so.


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