The question has been raised countless times – does addiction run in families? While studies on the subject of drug and alcohol addiction continue, researchers have found strong indicators that family history can be a factor in alcohol and drug abuse in children.
In fact, the risk has consistently been found to be approximately four times greater in families with a history of addiction. However, this is not a guarantee that children will become addicts.
The reality is that parents influence their children in many ways through both nature (genetics) and nurture in the examples and lessons they teach. In many studies, when parents are addicted, the chance of addictive tendencies in children increase, but it is not a sure thing.
The Impact Of Genetics On Addiction
Studies of twins with alcoholic parents have shown that genetic factors influence alcoholism. As well, children of alcoholics are at a higher risk for a variety of other behavioral and emotional problems. However, alcoholism is not solely determined by the genes one inherits. More than half of all children of alcoholics never experience alcohol problems.
Stopping The Cycle Of Addiction
When a parent with a drug or alcohol addiction decides to get help, there is often a feeling of regret about how the addiction may have impacted their family. While it’s impossible to change the past, it’s important to remember that there is no definitive evidence that children of addicts turn to drugs or alcohol solely because they’ve learned behaviors from their parents. Likewise, there is no concrete proof that addiction starts only because of genetics. The reasons for addiction are complex and not completely understood.
Instead of focusing on what can’t be changed, making a commitment to embrace recovery is an incredible gift that parents can give their children. Creating a life free from addiction enables a parent to show a child firsthand how to make better choices and how to learn from mistakes. This example will certainly help improve the chances that a child will not follow in the footsteps of addiction.
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