Understanding the Genetics Behind Addiction

Almost 21 million Americans are addicted to at least one substance, and only 10% have attempted to treat their addiction. With her comprehensive approach to health care, Dr. Padma Sripada’s goal is to help more patients like you find the treatment, freedom, and confidence you need to beat your addiction for good. 

Overview of addiction

Addiction is a disease of the brain in which you’re unable to resist using a substance. You could be addicted to illegal substances like heroin or cocaine or legal substances like prescription medication or nicotine. When you use the substance, your body releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel good. The more and more you use a substance, the more dopamine your brain needs to achieve the same feeling. As a result, addiction changes your brain and its ability to make judgments and function normally. 

There are many causes of addiction, including poor coping skills, negative thinking, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. However, the biggest contributing factor to your addiction is likely your genetics. Because there is overwhelming evidence that genetics do, in fact, affect your likelihood of becoming addicted, it is important to pay attention to your family history of addiction.

Genetics and addiction

You may be wondering why you even have a gene that could make you more likely to become addicted. Addiction is programmed into your brain. Have you ever overindulged during a delicious meal? That’s your brain craving dopamine and driving you to eat more and more. The same goes for more harmful substances like drugs and alcohol. We all have the potential to become addicted, but some are more at risk than others. 

It may sound strange to think that the microscopic elements that make up your DNA could have such a negative impact on your life, but researchers have discovered that there are actual mutations in your genes that make you more likely to become addicted than the person sitting next to you. In fact, scientists have discovered that 50% of your addiction can be blamed on your genetic makeup. 

A study conducted by the Scripps Research Institute in California found that out of 1,000 people, those who reported addiction to illegal drugs were four times more likely to have a mutated gene. This mutated gene affects the reward system in your brain, making you more susceptible to abuse and becoming addicted to substances. 

Addressing your addiction

How do you treat a disease you were born to have? Learning that your genetics play a big role in your addiction may seem like you’re fighting a losing battle, but many treatment options are available. 

First, you must be honest about your struggle with addiction and talk to your family or Dr. Sripada about your goals for recovery. Dr. Sripada’s approach to addiction recovery is holistic and comprehensive. 

After you’ve met with Dr. Sripada for a consultation, she develops a personalized treatment plan to guide you through your recovery process. She also prescribes treatment methods like meditation and addiction recovery skills. 

Genetics may account for 50% of your addiction problem, but it doesn’t have to account for any percentage of your recovery. If you’re ready to beat the statistics, change your family history, and find freedom in sobriety, call today or request an appointment online for a consultation. 

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