man discusses family history of addiction
By BrightView
Author Dan Bielecki, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
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Dan Bielecki, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Dan is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with supervision designation (LPCC-S) and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor... read more

Published: October 7, 2021
Updated: October 23, 2023

If you have ever sought substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, you are likely familiar with the addiction treatment assessment. An admission specialist takes your vital signs and asks questions about your substance use and your family history. You may wonder why addiction treatment centers want to know about your family’s history of substance use. The belief is that a family history of addiction to drugs or alcohol can increase your chances of developing substance use disorder (SUD). After all, if you’re a product of your environment, it makes sense that your family’s experiences would shape yours. But what if your environment is not the main contributor to your risk of SUD? What if vulnerability to addiction runs much deeper than where you grew up?

At BrightView, we understand how family history and genetics can make you more susceptible to substance abuse. We work together with you and your family to help break the cycle of substance use disorder, heal your relationships, and help you all lead healthier, happier lives together. Our evidence-based addiction treatment programs provide a combination of behavioral therapy, medication, group therapy, and family counseling. Call us today at 888.501.9865 to learn more about how we can help you overcome SUD despite your family history and addiction risk.

What Role Does Family History Play in Addiction?

The evidence supports that if your family members struggle with substance use disorder, you will be more likely to repeat that pattern. While your family’s use of drugs or alcohol can increase your chances of using the substances, it may not be for the reason you expect. The assumption is that your home environment is one of the most significant factors in using or misusing substances. However, it has been found that your genes are responsible for a higher risk of addiction.

What does genetics have to do with family history and addiction?

Your genes affect how effectively you metabolize alcohol, even more so than your physical size or gender. If you have gene variants that reduce your ability to metabolize alcohol and cause unpleasant symptoms when drinking, you may be less likely to drink enough to develop SUD.

Studies have shown that people who have been adopted and whose biological parents have substance use disorder are more likely to struggle with addiction even if their adoptive family does not have these issues.

Research has also discovered a much higher correlation between addiction in identical twins compared to fraternal twins, further demonstrating the strong relationship between genes and predisposition to SUD.

What Can You Do when Addiction and Family History Are Correlated?

If your family has a history of substance use disorder, you may be concerned that you will be a victim of this genetic fate. But it does not have to be that way. If you look around at people you know with a family history of SUD, you will surely notice that some family members do not struggle with addiction or even partake in drug or alcohol use at all. Here are some preventative measures you can take to help reduce your risk of developing a dependence on drugs or alcohol:

  • Abstain from drug or alcohol use or consume in small amounts.
  • Cultivate relationships with others who do not use drugs or drink heavily.
  • Avoid the use of prescription drugs unless necessary.
  • If you must take prescription drugs to manage health conditions, stick to your doctor’s prescribed dosage and frequency.

If you begin to notice early signs of dependence, either cut down or stop using the substance altogether. If you cannot do this on your own, seek professional help from an addiction treatment center.

BrightView: Helping You Through Family History and Addiction

Knowing how addiction and family history are related can empower you to take action that will reduce your risk. Even if you are already battling with substance use disorder, with BrightView’s addiction treatment programs and lifestyle changes, you can overcome your genetic predisposition to substance abuse. Call us today at 888.501.9865 to learn how we can help you overcome family history and addiction challenges.