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Addiction Questions

Isn’t Addiction Genetic?

In a word – NO.

Take a look from Chapter 3 of The Freedom Model for Addictions:

“Many of our readers as well as their family members are convinced that addiction “runs in their family” and that there is some genetic abnormality that forces them to use substances. They point to family members who’ve had substance use problems as proof that they’re genetically fated to repeatedly use substances problematically.

This is a case where you will find exactly what you’re looking for. As of this writing, the most recent data (NESARC III, 2016) shows that 68.5 million Americans, or 30% of the adult population, have fit the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives. That’s nearly one in three people. Fourteen percent fit the criteria for addiction to drugs. This means that the odds of having relatives who’ve struggled with substance use problems, even in your immediate family, are extremely high. If you have at least three adults in your family, chances are that one of them will have had an “addiction” at some point. Given this statistic, the odds are that addiction runs in everyone’s family.

Thus far, science hasn’t verified a single “addiction gene” nor has it explained how such a gene would cause people to want substances. Genetic determinists have now moved to saying there’s probably a “cluster of genes” that somehow converge perfectly to make people addicts. But again, they don’t know exactly how this would work or whether it’s really the case. As such, the question of whether genes are involved in heavy substance use is a very murky issue. But as we showed in chapter 1, even if genes are involved, 9 out of 10 people get over their substance use issues anyway. Our position is that, looking for an addiction gene or other “causes” of addiction is a fruitless quest. What’s even worse is that it gets in the way of people making changes because these “causes” end up functioning as excuses for people to give up on trying to change.”




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