Is Addiction Genetic? Understanding the Disease of Addiction

Is Addiction Genetic? The Factors that Affect Addiction Risk

Is addiction genetic or a choice? To this day, many people still believe that addiction is just a result of poor life choices. However, years of research indicates that addiction is a mental disease. While choices can expose a person to substance abuse, two different people can be exposed to the same amount of drug abuse and only one may become addicted. This is possible because addiction is a culmination of several factors that increase the risk of a person becoming addicted.

The factors that increase a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction will be discussed in this article.

Is Addiction Genetic?

To answer the question “is addiction genetic?” one needs to examine the cases where addiction runs in a family. In short, that answer to the question “is addiction genetic?” is it yes.  In fact, it is one of the leading causes of addiction. Some studies show that it can account for as much as 60 percent of the reason why people become addicts. If your father or grandfather was an alcoholic, your risk of developing alcoholism or some other addiction is greatly increased, giving you a predisposition to addiction.

Genetics refers to the genes that you inherit from your parents. Researchers are still trying to isolate a particular gene that could be responsible for addiction. As it stands, a person’s predisposition to addiction from their genetics causes them to have a 25 percent more likely chance than an average person to also have the same problem.  The link between genetics and addiction was established due to what is observed in other mental disorders that are also hereditary.

Is addition genetic or are there other factors to consider? The other known causes of addiction are as follows.

Environmental Factors of Addiction

The environmental factors of addiction refer to the situation that a person finds themselves in that puts them at greater risk of substance abuse. Peer pressure is a common environmental factor, leading to experimentation that has a chance to cause an addiction, especially when it is an addictive substance that is being tried.

Parents who neglect their children can cause more risk-taking behavior. It also causes children to suffer more from difficult emotions such as depression, and substance abuse can then become a way to cope with these issues.

Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

When someone has a dual diagnosis, they have an addiction and another mental disorder such as PTSD. People who have a mental disorder that is not properly managed open themselves up to a higher risk of substance abuse. This is usually the result of self-medicating their mental disorder’s symptoms, such as drinking alcohol in order to cope with feelings of social anxiety. Over time, an addiction forming becomes highly likely as the person begins to solely rely on the substance to deal with their other mental disorder.


The earlier a person starts using drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to form an addiction in their later life. It is believed to be the result of improper brain development that is caused by the presence of drugs or alcohol during crucial stages of development. This makes the person more prone to mental illnesses including addiction.

Type of Drug

Some drugs are not physically addictive and only a mental addiction forms to it. When a person abuses a drug such as opioid pain relievers – a highly addictive drug – they have a higher chance of becoming addicted.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.