The Role of Genetics, The Environment and Norms in Addiction

By December 16, 2015Addiction
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Alcohol and drug abuse can be explained by a number of complex factors. Genetics, environmental considerations, and social norms all play a role. Similarly, the addiction recovery process has many variables. Faith, support groups, family and individual willpower all play a part. Of course, ultimately addiction comes down an individual’s decision to partake or not. Nevertheless, understanding the possible circumstances and considerations that can influence addictive behavior can help those in addiction rehab avoid situations that reinforce substance abuse. Here are several considerations someone committed to sober living needs to be aware of.

Psychologists have long recognized that group norms are a reliable predictor of drug and alcohol use. If the norms in your social circle tolerate or encourage the use of intoxicating substances, then the possibility of you relapsing are that much higher. That is one reason recovery groups and support programs are so important.

Family history is also strongly correlated with addiction. Put simply, people from broken or dysfunctional homes are far more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. That is another reason recovery communities are so important. In effect, they become surrogate families for individuals who have made the decision to pursue sober living. These groups become a second chance at creating and experiencing the benefits of a healthy, supportive and loving family.

Genetics also play a huge role when it comes to addiction. Anxiety, depression and alcoholism tend to run in families. Simply being aware that one is predisposed to substance abuse can help you make more informed and better decisions. Genetics is not destiny. For example, the genes for breast cancer may not be triggered if one eats an Asian diet. Similarly, avoiding environmental situations that trigger extreme stress can help many avoid the temptation to self-medicate anxiety with drugs or alcohol.

Similarly, environmental cues associated with intoxicated states can elicit the desire to use drugs and alcohol again. Settings that remind us of the times when we got high or inebriated can rekindle the urge to imbibe. In making the decision to stay sober, it is important to avoid situations that reinforce or trigger addictive inclinations.

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