Not everyone who has the odd drink, or occasionally uses drugs, will become addicted. Some people can remain casual users or drinkers whilst others cannot. Research has yet to find a definitive reason as to why this should be, but it is widely accepted that heredity has a part to play.
The genetic makeup of the human body creates a chemical blueprint that is exclusive to each human being and which governs everything from height and weight to personality characteristics and behavior. However, chance mutations occasionally occur in genes, which can produce hereditary diseases – for instance cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease result from change in a single gene. Research has been somewhat successful in pinpointing these genes and has designed effective treatments.
However, addiction results from changes in many genes – and the genes involved can vary from individual to individual. This makes locating the genes influencing addiction almost impossible in its complexity.
Nevertheless there is a wealth of evidence which points to alcoholism and/or addiction being inherited. For instance, identical twins born to alcoholic parents are more likely to become alcoholics than fraternal twins born to the same parents, since identical twins share identical genes, whereas fraternal twins do not.
Whilst further research is indicated, the factor of heredity as related to addiction cannot be ignored.