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Is There a Gene for Addiction?

Person looking out window and thinking about the link between addiction and genetics

As with any chronic and progressive disease, there is always interest in what causes various addictions. You may find yourself asking the following: Are addiction and genetics connected? If so, is addiction a genetic issue? Is anyone with the gene for addiction susceptible to developing a substance use disorder (SUD)?

The hope is that if the addiction gene is identified, more effective treatment—or even complete prevention—won’t be far behind. Scientists in addiction research have known for years that a person’s genetic history plays the most significant role in whether or not that person is susceptible to drug addiction. It is estimated that 50% to 60% of that risk is due to inherited factors. Call 888.296.8976 to speak with someone from the knowledgeable team at Northpoint Recovery about our addiction resources in Boise, Idaho.

Will the Gene for Addiction Ever Be Discovered?

Most experts believe that humankind will never find a single addiction gene. As with other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension, a person’s vulnerability to addiction is complex. Several factors determine the chances that someone will develop addiction at some point—including inherited, environmental, and behavioral factors.

In the end, it matters less why a person develops addiction. What matters more is what should be done to help arrest the progress of the disease and reduce the horrific adverse effects it can have on the lives of the substance abuser and their entire family. Suppose you or someone you care about is struggling with a SUD manifesting as drug addiction or alcoholism. In that case, you and your family can get the help and hope you need by contacting Northpoint Recovery in Boise, Idaho.

Other Causal Factors of Addiction

Genetics only tell part of the story regarding a person’s susceptibility to addiction. Besides genetics, other factors that influence that propensity include the following.


The environment that a person grows up in can be just as influential as genetics and can include factors such as:

  • Poverty
  • Availability of drugs
  • Changes in social status
  • Peer pressure
  • Employment status
  • Occupation
  • Cultural attitudes within the community

It’s crucial to remember that addiction is a complex and multifaceted disease. The truth is that addiction has many causes, and there’s no single addiction gene, but the environment can play an essential role in its onset.

Individual Risk Factors

These are the factors that are unique to the individual and their family situation, such as:

  • Childhood exposure to alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Extreme changes in the family situation
  • Academic stress or poor performance
  • Social deprivation or alienation
  • Causal or co-occurring mental conditions such as clinical depression or generalized anxiety
  • Suicidal behavior

If you or someone you love displays suicidal behavior, get professional help immediately. More than being a causal factor of addiction, this behavior is a life-threatening emergency.

College-Age Risk Factors

College students away from home can be subjected to a whole new list of risk factors, including:

  • Separation anxiety due to being apart from family, friends, and a familiar environment
  • Increased peer pressure
  • A relaxed attitude towards the acceptability of drugs
  • Greater availability of drugs
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Heightened academic pressure

Combined with a genetic predisposition, these other factors can significantly increase the risk of addiction. However, it’s important to remember that the propensity to abuse alcohol or drugs does not necessarily determine that person’s destiny. Actions still have to happen before the risk potential truly matters. First, the individual has to choose to experiment with alcohol or drugs. Then, they have to use the substance repeatedly over some time. Only at that point will a person’s genetic vulnerability come into play.

Find Addiction Treatment in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

Northpoint Recovery utilizes an evidence-based treatment strategy to help patients overcome addiction on physical, emotional, mental, nutritional, and spiritual levels. Contact Northpoint Recovery today at 888.296.8976 to learn more about addiction and genetics.