Genetic Factors in Addiction

Drug and alcohol addictions are physiological and behavioral. There’s a reason that addiction affects the entire family. For 40 to 60 percent of those who suffer with substance addiction, there is also a genetic predisposition within their family to it.

Through the treatment and recovery process, Maryland Recovery urges the family members of our clients to be part of our family program. This allows us to uncover generational addiction tendencies and share positive life skills with the entire family, minimizing the risk for addiction relapse while strengthening relationships.

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Environmental Causes for Addiction

What we are exposed to dictates our perception of what is normal. In addition to the constant negative impressions people receive from digital media and the people they know, as well as strangers, some of the more detrimental root causes for addictive behaviors lies within the home.

Parents and siblings influence the behaviors of children, more than their peers. When family members engage in ongoing drug or alcohol use at home, adolescents become young adults who use for recreational purposes or as an accepted coping mechanism to deal with emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Without warning, chemical codependency sets in.

In families that condone addictive behaviors, they can inadvertently support the drug or alcohol use. Through what is known as enabling behaviors, family members act, react or hide from the person using drugs or alcohol simply because they don’t know how to handle it. Enabling behaviors foster an environment of fear, shame, guilt, loss and anger, allowing the drug or alcohol use to continue while further destroying the family.

If you recognize these behaviors in yourself or other family members, you could be enabling the drug or alcohol addiction in someone else:

Enabling behaviors include:

  • Deflecting blame on others instead of the addict
  • Ignoring the addict and associated issues stemming from their drug use
  • Taking care of their mess or lying about it (financial, work, school, personal obligations)
  • Ignoring own needs to take care of addict’s first
  • Inability to express feelings to other family members, emotionally unavailable
  • Living in fear because of the addict’s behavior
  • Resentment towards the addict and the impact he or she has made on the family

In addition to the behaviors noted above, family members can often take specific roles within the dynamics of enabling an addict. Counseling from addiction treatment experts can reset parent/child patterns into healthy behaviors that support the entire family.

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