Does Addiction Run In Families? An Addiction Expert Comments On The Genetic Component Of Addiction

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Nationally Recognized Addiction Expert, Dr. Indra Cidambi, Looks at Whether Family Matters When It Comes to Substance Abuse

New York, NY – February 6, 2018 – Millions of Americans are battling the disease of addiction, devastating families and putting lives at risk. Substance use disorders can be unforgiving, leaving all who cross its path picking up the pieces and wondering how to break the cycle of addiction. With the current opioid epidemic and the prevalence of drug abuse in our country, many will be wondering if the children of individuals currently suffering from substance use disorders can inherit the disease of addiction.

“While no specific gene has been linked with addiction, it is widely accepted that genetics plays a part. However, there are more important factors that contribute to a person becoming addicted,” said Dr. Indra Cidambi, a nationally recognized Addiction Expert and Medical Director of New Jersey-based Center for Network Therapy. “Most of my patients had a close family member (grandfather, uncle, parent) who suffered from addiction, but they also suffered from one or a combination of mental health issues, a history of physical, sexual (most of my female patients), emotional or psychological abuse, and physical pain,” added Dr. Cidambi. The age of first exposure to drugs or alcohol was also a factor.

“Genetic predisposition alone may not enough to get individually addicted, other factors have to come together,” said Dr. Cidambi. She highlighted some scenarios. “Some individuals with mental health issues never found the right medication to help them and turned to drugs to find relief. Some patients experimented with drugs at a very early age due to peer pressure and became physically dependent on them. Others were prescribed opioid pain pills or addictive anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) for too long and became chemically dependent.”

While some studies have shown that children of alcoholics were four times as likely to become alcoholics themselves, genetics may not be the only reason. “We need to look at the whole picture. While genetics is a factor, perhaps it could be that these children were also exposed to alcohol at a very early age or there was neglect or abuse in their home that acted as triggers,” said Dr. Cidambi.

If an individual finds that addiction runs in the family, Dr. Cidambi believes the approach should be just like other hereditary conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. “If you have a parent or grandparent who suffered from addiction, you need to be aware that it could be more of an issue for you than others without such history,” said Dr. Cidambi. “Be careful about who you associate with as it could lead you down the path of experimentation with drugs, which will give your genetic predisposition a chance to draw you deeper to get you addicted! Keep note of how much alcohol you drink, because a person with a predisposition can usually tolerate alcohol better than those without such a predisposition. Also, consider a substance abuse evaluation if you are using a substance to cope with stressors or unpleasant situations in your life – this could be problematic, as you are learning to deal with problems by forgetting they exist.”

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