Neurons of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in drug addiction. [Dr. Christopher Cowan/Medical University of South Carolina]

Is addiction Genetic or Environmental?

People have always assumed that certain drug and alcohol problems run in the family.
But are the main factors that contribute to addiction, Is it the environmental or genetic?

Upbringing has alway been a the main concern, but new studies suggest genetic may hold the key.


The study of heritable gene expressions and changes

Researchers looked into the Epigenetic role of Cocaine addiction.

The epigenetic enzyme histone deacetylase 5 (HDAC5) controls the NAc gene in the brains reward center.

The Nucleus Accumbens or NAc has an impact on the brains reward centers development.

This creates stronger ties between environmental cues and the reward response in the brain.

Making it harder for the test subjects to control their response to these cues.

Common cues that are part of any normal environment maybe enough to trigger cocaine craving for these individuals.

This means, while some individuals may be able to overcome addiction by avoiding relapse triggers.

People that are genetically predisposed will more likely relapse due to the amount of triggers.

Proof addiction run in genes?

Not really, Addiction these gene markers don’t specifically make some one has a predisposition to cocaine addiction.

What is does mean is, once addiction has developed, it will become harder for them to kick.

The act of becoming addicted is a learned behavior that takes time to develop, no matter your genetic make up.

Over time and constant use, habits will form that will ultimately lead to this issue.

Making recovery and relapse prevention more challenging.

What the results of this research indicate is, while one person might slip up and get back on track. Others can possible go into full blow relapse due to the family genetics

Learning From others

The best way to avoid any such issues is to not use cocaine in the first place.

If it seems to be common amongst family members, take note. This can also be a warning for you, or even friends that seem to have drug problems in the family.

Detoxing from cocaine usually means going thought a progressive step program.

The sooner you are able to notice the warning signs the easier recovery will be.