Common knowledge (and countless studies) have warned pregnant women against alcohol and drugs for decades, as it can have harmful effects physically and psychologically on the baby and the mother. But are babies predisposed towards addiction if their parents or relatives suffer from addiction?
There are two ways to look at this question: nature versus nurture. Nature argues that children of people who suffer from addiction have may have a genetic predisposition to drug addiction, while nurture argues that drug predispositions arise based on how the child was raised. However, a third possibility exists: that both of these factors help determine a child’s predisposition towards drug addiction.
The 50/50 Split
Are babies predisposed to drug addiction? The answer is: it’s a 50/50 tossup. Experts believe that addiction is influenced 50% by our genes and family history and 50% due to poor coping skills. And studies have shown that if a parent suffers from an addiction, their child is eight times more likely to develop an addiction than if their parents didn’t.
However, the bare fact is that all of us have genetic predispositions for addiction: our brains are wired to get us to repeat pleasing behavior as much as possible. But some of us are more predisposed to addiction than others.
Many people immediately begin using drugs or alcohol in large quantities, which leads to quick addiction. However, others may start modestly and develop their addiction over time. Whether you have a high or low genetic predisposition, we are all at risk of developing an addiction.
Even if no one in that child’s family history has abused drugs or alcohol, drug and alcohol use will still rewire the child’s brain. Each time the child reaches for a pill or the bottle, they are rewarding their brains, which can eventually get wired to need a substance. Thus, addiction develops.
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It’s Not All About The Genes
Our genes and family history do not determine our outcome or destiny and we are not doomed by our family’s past mistakes. But, it’s still important to be careful if your family does have a history of substance abuse: just don’t let it paralyze you.
Remember: many people who have a family history of addiction and are struggling with their own addictions have sought help and recovered successfully. Learning stronger coping skill is a big part of this success. Remember that addiction is 50% predisposition and 50% coping skills. You may not be in control of your genes, but you are in control of your coping skills. And you are also in control of the choices that you make.
While some babies may have a higher genetic tendency for addiction, this does not determine their outcome as children or adults. The choices you make, the environment you are in, and the coping mechanisms you have will shape and determine your destiny.
Cross Addiction: Don’t Be Fooled
Maybe you are a single parent and your child’s other parent suffered from addiction to alcohol or meth. Don’t think that your child only has a predisposition to these substances. This is simply not the case.
In cross addiction, if any of your family members had an addiction, your child may become addicted to any drug. This is just how our brains work. Addictions, whether it’s a drug addiction or an alcohol addiction, occur in the same place in our brains. If a child’s brain is wired and genetically predisposed to one addiction, they are genetically predisposed to any addiction.
Start Your New Life
If you or your child has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s time to get help. Reach out to a doctor or psychologist today to help determine the best plan of action. If it’s an emergency, always go to your nearest ER or hospital. Struggling with an addiction can be tough for anyone. If you have questions about this topic or others, reach out to Vertava Health today. We’re here to help you make the decision for a new life.