The Role Genetics Play in Addiction Recovery and How This Knowledge Can Potentially Reduce Stigma

The Role Genetics Play in Addiction Recovery and How This Knowledge Can Potentially Reduce Stigma

The Role Genetics Play in Addiction Recovery and How This Knowledge Can Potentially Reduce Stigma

One of the most common questions surrounding addiction is, “What makes one person more vulnerable to addiction than another?” This age-old question has been scoured persistently for answers by countless scientists and psychologists, and while we are still learning about what influences addiction, we’re certain that genetics do play a role in it. Learning that a mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin or other close relative places us at an increased risk of vulnerability towards substance abuse; while we’re not fated to make the same choices as others in our family tree, we are at an increased likelihood of veering towards substances if our family members before us have.

Stigma often lingers around the topic of addiction because it’s misunderstood; with so many factors at play, it’s hard to pinpoint one specific reason why a person struggles with addiction. Many people experience self-stigmatization, as they blame themselves and experience immense amounts of shame for the path of addiction they’ve come to find themselves on. We want to be able to blame one thing, and one thing only – but unfortunately, it’s much more complex than this.

Last year, researchers published a study in the journal Biosocieties that involved interviewing 63 individuals in treatment programs. They wanted to explore specifically how those in recovery perceive their genetic influence regarding addiction, and in how they deal with stigma surrounding their addiction in general. Surprisingly enough, a large percentage of participants stated that having a greater understanding of genetic influences would help them better deal with shame – and further promote acceptance – of treatment. Why would having a clearer picture of genetics make that much of an influence?

The answer isn’t quite clear yet, but one participant explained their reasoning for it:

“It is easier to believe and know that it is a disease or a genetic thing than it is to believe that I’m a rotten person. I can say, okay…I can work on it. But if I’m a rotten person, I might just as well stay where I am.”

Perhaps a lot of this has to do with being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel – to have faith that one can change and improve their life, despite what’s been holding them back. The biggest takeaway here, however, is that no matter what you’ve been through – whether genetics are involved or not – you are capable of improving your life.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.