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Genetics and Addiction

The Genetic Link to Addiction

Why do two people in the same environment have similar drinking habits, but only one becomes addicted? Scientists are finally unraveling the puzzle. They think genes are responsible for 40 to 60% of a person’s chances of becoming addicted, but the environment is important too.

Can Addiction Be Genetic and Environmental?

Addictions run in families, but the discussion of whether “nurture” or “nature” explains it was up for debate until recently. Now, researchers know some genes raise the odds, and others lower them. Along with DNA, surroundings, and behavior play a big role too.

Genes are little bits of DNA that tell the body’s cells what to do. The complete set of genetic instructions makes up the human genome. When genes undergo changes, they develop disease-causing mutations. Epigenetics is the study of how behavior and environment work together to affect gene expression. Mutations are permanent, but epigenetic changes are not. Smoking is an example of how epigenetic changes can reverse themselves. Although nicotine is harmful, the damage lessens when smokers give up the habit.

Can addiction be genetic? It can, but that doesn't mean someone with the wrong genes is doomed. It is, however, a signal to live a healthy lifestyle and be good to yourself.

What Are the Symptoms of Addiction?

The symptoms of addiction fall into three categories: physical, behavioral, and emotional:

  • Physical - dilated pupils; bloodshot eyes; runny nose; weight loss; hyperactivity and/or lethargy; speech changes; sniffling; changes in eating habits; poor hygiene; sweating; nausea
  • Behavioral - preoccupation with drug-related activities; absenteeism or problems at work or school; secrecy or withdrawal; disrupted sleep; legal problems; trouble with relationships
  • Emotional - apathy; irritability; mood changes; loss of interest in hobbies or friends; confusion; denial; rationalizing; minimizing; blaming; deflecting; thinking of suicide
Addiction usually starts in a social setting. Gradually, the disease progresses, tolerance builds, and cravings become stronger. Eventually, withdrawal symptoms replace the initial high, and the search for the substance becomes the most important thing in life.

Holistic Detox and Rehab for Addiction

Detox is the first step of the journey, but some providers make it easier by offering a seamless transition from detox through rehab. Holistic detox, a relatively new concept, provides medical care and counseling, but it also incorporates alternative healing therapies that address the medical, clinical, and spiritual aspects of recovery.

Addiction often starts with an attempt to self-medicate pain, and identifying the trigger is the key to staying sober. Besides traditional clinical and medical treatment, holistic programs rely on family constellation therapy, a healthy diet, and a balanced lifestyle to restore sobriety and self-confidence. They also use practices like yoga, meditation, music, art, equine therapy, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of addiction, it's never too early to get help. You can find a directory for local detox and rehab centers, or search the internet for "addiction treatment near me."

At Enlightened Solutions, we don't just treat addictions. We treat the mind, body, and spirit. Let us help you.

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