Children imitate those in their environment. That’s how they learn to survive in this world. They learn what to eat, how to protect themselves with clothes and shelter, and how to act or react to their surroundings. This includes learning how to act around those struggling with addiction or whether to use illicit substances themselves.
It is estimated 20 million children are abused by an addicted adult in their home. The children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholics. With these statistics in view, it’s logical to assume children must be genetically predisposed to addiction. Or children of addicts have no other choice but to become addicts.
While it may be logical, this line of thinking is a misconception. It is time to break the perceived cycle of generational addiction.
Break the Cycle: The Truth of Genetics
Scientists have identified genes that link to addiction. The key word is “genes”, plural. There is no one gene that decides one will be an addict. There are many variations of gene sequences suggesting how one may react to specific substances. But gene sequences are not definitive as environmental factors can change gene expression.
Take for example the A1 allele of the dopamine receptor gene DRD2. It’s more common in people addicted to alcohol and cocaine according to the University of Utah Health Sciences, Genetic Science Learning Center.
It is more common.
More common does not mean every alcoholic or cocaine addict has the A1 allele. This genetic expression does not define every alcoholic or cocaine addict.
In fact, Jean-Pierre Issa, director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and professor of molecular biology at Temple University in Philadelphia states “… the sequence of the DNA isn’t enough to explain behavior. It isn’t enough to explain diseases.”
Diet, stress, and trauma can trigger genetic changes. These changes can then be passed through the generations on biological markers called epigenetics. So although susceptibility to addiction can be passed on genetically, the converse is true. When a generation changes their environment to support healthy, non-addicted living, healthy markers can be passed to future generations.
Frankly stated, changes in lifestyle can stop the genetic expression of addiction.
Break the Cycle: Educate Children on Addiction
Genetic predisposition does not have to equal an addiction destiny. Educate children on addiction, abuse, and healthy living to change addiction outcomes. Teaching mindfulness and other stress management tools early in life will help children cope with a stressful home life instead of turning towards substance abuse as an escape. Journaling, yoga, and exercise are good activities for children, teens, and tweens struggling with stress and temptation to use drugs or alcohol.
Ready to Break the Cycle?
Does alcoholism or drug addiction run in your family?
Are you struggling with an addiction and want to get sober?
Is your addiction affecting your children?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we can help.
Northlake Recovery in Southern Florida offers inpatient and outpatient treatment options with a focus on holistic recovery. Stress and pain management, nutrition, and mindfulness are taught along with traditional therapies to help you stay sober.
Call Northlake Recovery at (561)-770-6616 for a free and confidential consultation.