The link between genetics and addiction is strong. Studies show heritability of the disease at 30 to 70 percent based on the drug, the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics publishes. If your parent or an immediate family member struggles with addiction, you may be twice as likely to also battle the disease than someone who doesn’t have the same genetic link.
Genes can influence the way drugs interact in your brain and body, NIDA explains, which can then make you more or less susceptible to addiction. For example, if you have lower levels of natural opioids in your brain and you try heroin, it may impact you more. This makes you more likely to keep using it for the intense high it can produce.
Genes can also be involved in the way your brain regulates moods and deals with impulse control. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs says that while environmental factors may be more influential for trying drugs as a teenager, genetic factors can actually impact repetitive drug use patterns as an adult.
Genes can make you more likely to struggle with conduct and behavioral problems as an adolescent, and this can make drug and alcohol use more common.
Genetic factors can also influence the way you are able to manage your emotions and calm yourself. Again, drugs and alcohol can be a form of self-medication, and this is more likely if emotional instability is present.
You may use drugs due to a stressful environment, but then genetic markers reinforce the behavior, NBC News explains. Ultimately, it is believed that both genetics and environmental aspects are involved in the onset of addiction.