Is addiction hereditary? The answer is in our DNA
Is addiction hereditary? The answer is in our DNA

Different types of addictions & their cognitive-neurological implications

Different types of addictions & their cognitive-neurological implications

Is addiction hereditary?

There has never been this much chaos about any subject that is around addiction these days. From investigations on physical effects to studies on psychological side effects. But the current hot issue has touched the controversial statement that proposes some genetic grounds for addiction. This article aimed to first, introduce various types of addictions, second, to see if addiction is hereditary, and third, examine the main and bold factors of addiction.           

Addiction and its different types 

Addiction is a complicated disease that takes our self-control away and has affected societies all over the world almost for a century. This disorder is categorized widely into two mental and physical types. Experts say when something turns into an uncontrollable habit or behavior and continues despite significant harm, it is regarded as an addiction. Based on this definition, even shopping or eating could be an addiction in certain situations. All in all, if we want to introduce the most famous and severe types of addiction the list would be like the below:

A: addiction to the substance  

  • Addiction to drugs like marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, opium, etc.
  • Addiction to alcohol at different levels.
  • Addiction to nicotine 
  • Addiction to legal drugs without a doctor’s prescription 

B: addiction to dangerous behaviors 

  • Gambling addictions.
  • Addiction to the internet including online pornography, video games, etc.
  • Sex addiction.
  • Food addiction.
  • Work addiction. 

Now we have a perspective on different types of addictions including behavior and substance dependencies, it is time to investigate if there are any hereditary factors involved in addiction. 

Is addiction caused by genetics?

This question is not a correct and precise request and there is not a simple answer to it. For instance, we could call the color of eyes or skin genetic but there is no solid evidence that certain people ultimately would become addicts. On the other hand, some people are more likely to develop some disease and this is somehow true about addiction. Scientists introduced a term called predisposition for addiction and its hereditary quality. It means some people have some vulnerability to develop a disorder like addiction more than others, but as mentioned before, they would not necessarily have an addiction no matter behavioral or to a substance. So it is fair to say that some people are born with a higher risk of addiction inherited from their parents. 

Now the other question has come up and that is how and to what extent genetics determine vulnerability to addiction. To answer this question, there is a need to study the brain mechanism of humans.

 The brain has a reward system that suggests a good moment should repeat and this happens after releasing the dopamine hormone. To be more specific, different types of addictions start with a short-delighted experience, and neurons of the brain are fed with dopamine. As a result, the body demands more and more pleasant times, and the vulnerable addict seeks more amounts of drugs.

Our brains vulnerability against addiction is under academic investigation
Our brains vulnerability against addiction is under academic investigation

Heritage and other factors

Scientists declared that genetics is responsible for addiction between 40 to 60 percent of the time and this statement means some people are more in danger of addiction. Now there is on-going academic research on the DNA of addicts to realize if any specific genes might be the cause. These efforts state that some genes are responsible for protein production and their performance will increase or decrease the chance of getting addicted. The name of the certain protein is DARPP-32 and is found by Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Paul Greengard. DARPP-32 is in neurotransmitters, that are carrying on messages to neurons, and this particular protein responds to drug abuse actively. After all these explanations, anyone could have that ominous gene but will not necessarily be an addict. 

Experts have clarified that some factors could trigger the addiction potential and create an addict out of a person prone to addiction. The most intense factors are environment-related and after that, emotional factors and gender. People’s environment provides exposure to different types of drugs. After that, emotional shocks (referred to as trauma), unpleasant childhood experiences, and mental disorders like bipolar. Finally gender is a factor in shaping the sort of addiction, with men usually experiencing addiction to substances and females facing behavioral addictions.   

What kind of environment increases the risk of addiction? 

The most poisonous environment for a person hereditarily prone to addiction is having addicted parents. Results of research show that up to 80 percent of children with addicted parents would use drugs in their life and this rate for alcohol is 60 percent. After family, the workplace ranked as the second environment that could trigger addiction genes. There are some types of jobs that increase addiction risks through stress creation. As an illustration, doctors, lawyers, military members, firefighters, arts professionals, construction managers, and police officers are at higher risks of addiction. It is also noteworthy that these professions were introduced based on research in the US and are not the most precise list worldwide.       

Is addiction hereditary?

If you read this article, you could decide how to answer this question in the title. What we said is that some people are more vulnerable to various types of addictions due to their specific genes. Although, they could protect themselves by abstaining from potentially dangerous places to live, work, and hang out. In the end, it should be noted that regular people also need to be aware of high-risk places and habits. Before taking any drugs, first, remember your brain’s mechanism, no matter what your genes dictate, after the first experience your brain highly demands the second use and before you realize it, all your body gets used to addiction. If you took any rugs or are addicted, try to get help mentally, spiritually, and physically as soon as possible.



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