Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies

Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies Pathfinders Recovery Center - A family all holding hands together, an analogy for exploring the link between family genetics and addiction tendencies.

We often hear of people having an addictive personality, or even that addiction runs in families.

It does bring up the question: “Why does one person get addicted to drugs or alcohol and another doesn’t? Is addiction linked to genetics?”

Is it possible to be predisposed to addiction? Is there a genetic link to addiction? If your parent or relative struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, do family genetics mean there’s no hope for you?

We’re going to answer all of these questions for you in this article.

Keep reading to learn about the genetic predisposition to addiction and general addiction tendencies based on your DNA.

What Is Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine states that addiction is a direct effect of the reward and motivational part of our brains being affected by an overwhelming need to “pursue reward or relief by substance use and behaviors.”

Alcohol addiction is one of the most common addictions in the United States.

An estimated 15.1 million people have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

While most of us immediately think of alcoholism when we think of addiction, you can be addicted to many different substances and/or behaviors.

Some other examples of common addictions include:

  • Tobacco
  • Opioids
  • Sex
  • Cocaine
  • Benzos
  • Gambling

Any substance or behavior that affects your pleasure and/or reward system in the brain has the potential to become an addiction.

Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies Pathfinders - A husband and father is pouring another drink at the dining room table while his wife and daughter stand behind him depressed and watching him suffer with his alcoholism, as he wonders whether addiction is linked to genetics or not before seeking treatment.

Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction is defined as a chronic disease of the brain that affects you mentally, physically, and socially.

Addiction directly disrupts normal brain function that impairs your judgment, learning, motivation, memory, and reward/relief systems.

Genetic Links to Addiction

As with other diseases, there are a number of factors that contribute to the development of the disease.

These factors include social settings, environmental factors, behavioral factors, and family genetics.

Let’s get a little bit more into the genetic predisposition associated with addiction.

“Addiction Genes”

There has been a scientific effort to uncover the specific genes that would result in addiction and drug abuse disorders.

This brings up two questions: “Why would there be genes for addiction anyway? If addiction is so harmful, shouldn’t those types of genes have already been eliminated from our population due to natural selection?”

Some argue that “addiction genes” may have helped our early ancestors to promote motivation and feelings of pleasure/reward for things like gathering food, procreating, etc. Once these genes are in place to reward us, it can affect how we behave with other things that give us pleasure, like drugs and alcohol.

There has been some success in finding particular “addiction genes.” As with most things concerning genetics, there is no one specific “addiction gene.” Instead, it’s a complex system of different genes and chemicals that can lead to addictive tendencies.

One common gene found in many drug addicts and alcoholics is a gene that affects dopamine receptors in the brain, specifically the DRD2 gene.

Dopamine is this “feel good” chemical in your brain. When you do something pleasurable (like drugs), your brain releases dopamine, which makes you feel good and makes you want to do more of that thing.

If your dopamine receptors are changed or more receptive to dopamine, it could make it easier to become addicted to drugs.

This is just one example of a potential “addiction gene” found by scientists. Hundreds of other genes can contribute to a predisposition to addiction. See some more examples here.

Twin Studies

Some of the most telling facts about addiction and genetics are genetics looking at family history and relatives with addiction.

Studies show that genetics amount to up to 50% of the likelihood that you’ll develop an addiction.

How do we know this? One study looked at over 1,000 sets of twins. Identical twins have the same genetic make-up. Therefore, if addiction were solely genetic, we would assume that if one twin had a substance abuse issue, the other twin would as well.

However, they found that if one twin had an addiction, the other twin was likely to have an addiction. But, they found that if one twin had an addiction, it didn’t mean the other twin had an addiction too.

In simple terms, this study found that genes have a large factor in addiction since the likelihood of twins having an addiction was high.

However, when one twin had an addiction, many of their twins with the same genes did not have an addiction.

This indicates that other factors that contribute to addiction besides genetics, even if addiction is linked to genetics.

Other studies support these findings.

This leads to the consensus that genetics amount to half of the predisposition/risk of developing an addiction.

Children of Parents Struggling with Addiction

When thinking about addiction’s genetic component, we have to look at the history of drug addiction in families.

One of the easiest ways to study the genetic links to addiction is to look at the children of those struggling with addiction.

These individuals struggling with substance abuse pass on their genes to their children. So, if there is a genetic link, logic tells us that the children of these individuals should also have substance abuse issues at one point or another. They should at least be at a much higher risk of addiction compared to children of those that do not have drug or alcohol issues.

And studies have found that this is, in fact, the case.

Children of those struggling with addiction are eight times more likely also to develop an addiction than children of individuals without substance abuse issues.

Another study showed that people who use drugs are more likely to have at least one parent that also uses drugs.

Is It Really Genetics? Digging Deeper

After everything we’ve just gone over, from the specific genetic findings to the family statistics, you might think it’s definite that genetics is the factor that causes addiction.

While it’s true addiction is linked to genetics, there are questions related to how much this means in terms of genetic predisposition.

However, we can’t ignore the behavioral and social aspects of family life that have nothing to do with genetics.

Children growing up with parents who normalize drug and alcohol use may simply use drugs because socially, it seemed normal. This doesn’t have to do with their genes; it has to do with their social environment.

While family statistics and studies show a link between genetics and addiction, it’s also important to remember that addiction is a complex disease with many factors, including social and behavioral factors.

Exploring the Link Between Family Genetics and Addiction Tendencies Pathfinders - A man struggling with substance abuse has decided to enter treatment after learning that addiction is linked to genetics and his parents struggled with addiction. He is taking part in an initial group therapy session to discuss his story and gain insight for healthy coping mechanisms to break free from addiction.

Other Factors that Can Lead to Addiction

Continuing with this idea, let’s look at some other factors that can contribute to addiction besides “addiction genes.”

Some of the most significant risk factors for addiction include:

  • Stress
  • Mental health disorders, such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety, etc.
  • Emotional/physical trauma
  • Peer pressure
  • Pop culture exposure
  • Easy access to drugs/alcohol
  • Social environment

Predisposition Is Not Certainty

This brings us to a very important point.

Just because you’re predisposed or have a higher risk of developing an addiction doesn’t mean you definitely will.

Your entire family could struggle with alcohol and drug abuse, and you could have multiple “addiction genes.”

But this does not mean addiction is inevitable for you.

If you feel you have many risk factors and can feel yourself potentially going down the wrong path, you can learn coping skills and enter treatment before an addiction develops.

Understanding your risks as a child or relative of someone who struggles with substance abuse can be a way to regulate your drug use. It can also help you understand you’re predisposed to addiction, which might motivate you to seek help before things get worse.

Each of these factors could lead to a higher risk of addiction, no matter what genes you have.

Addiction is complex and is the result of not one but many factors.

Genetics could be a big part of what leads someone down the addiction path, but it’s not the only factor. Although it is still essential to be aware that addiction is linked to genetics.

Family Genetics and Addiction: Bottom Line

You’ve probably heard that alcoholism is a family disease, and on some level, that’s true.

Addiction is linked to genetics and drug abuse disorders.

However, it’s also important to recognize that addiction is a complex disease that cannot be pinpointed on one factor or cause. It’s a myriad of social and biological triggers that come together to form the perfect storm known as addiction.

If you or a family member is struggling to stay sober, contact us today.

We can help those suffering from addiction overcome their reliance and live a healthier, more stable life.

 

The Amazing Benefits of Yoga for Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are on the rise in America.

According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), 40 million people struggle with an anxiety disorder, and 16.1 million experience major depressive disorder every year.

They’re also common in dual diagnosis.

These are scary numbers.

Anyone with the misfortune of having one of these conditions knows how debilitating they can be.

The negative physical, social and emotional impacts of substance abuse and mental health disorders can be severe and long-lasting.

Thankfully, both can be treated effectively.

However, traditional approaches, like medication and psychotherapy, are far from foolproof.

For instance, medication (if it works in the first place) can lead to all manner of side effects. And therapy can last a long time, costing a lot of money in the process.

As a result, alternative approaches are in high demand.

One such alternative treatment that’s becoming increasingly popular is yoga.

13 million people practice yoga in the U.S. every year, and 58% of them practice it to support their health and well-being.

Keep reading to discover the many amazing benefits of yoga for depression and anxiety.

What Actually Is Yoga?

Some describe yoga as a literal union between yourself and your unconscious. But in practice, it’s a form of physical exercise that combines stretching, breathing, and different body poses.

There are different types of yoga, too.

There’s Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram – among others.

While there are similarities between them all, each offers slight variations in intensity, approach, focus, and speed.

For thousands of years, yoga has been used to enhance spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.

However, only recently has research looked into its specific effects on depression and anxiety.

Of all the different forms, Hatha yoga has been studied the most in relation to its impact on these mental illnesses.

Hatha yoga helps you enter deep states of relaxation by focusing on slow, gentle movements and breathing exercises.

It’s ideal for beginners and could be an excellent place to start if you’re new to the practice.

The Amazing Benefits of Yoga for Depression and Anxiety Pathfinders - A group of individuals in recovery are taking part in a yoga class as yoga for depression and anxiety has been found to be beneficial in terms of healthy coping mechanisms to avoid relapse.

The Benefits of Yoga for Depression and Anxiety

Scientific studies have begun to prove the benefits of yoga for depression and anxiety.

Below are some of the ways it’s been shown to help:

Yoga Equals Exercise

Yoga can be a tough physical exercise, especially when you first start.

You’ll be twisting, contorting, using small muscle groups, and generally building strength in many different areas of your body.

Potential pain and discomfort aside, research has shown how this can help the way you feel. For instance, a study by Duke University in 2000 showed an inverse relationship between exercise and depression.

The more we exercise, the less depressed we feel.

Exercise was shown to be as effective as medication at reducing symptoms of depression. Participants who exercised throughout the study experienced a greater reduction in symptoms compared to people who took medication.

Building exercise (such as yoga) into your routine is beneficial to naturally improve periods of depression and anxiety.

Yoga Equals Meditation

Mindful meditation is a practice of non-judgmental awareness in the present moment.

It’s also a recognized clinical treatment for anxiety and depression.

Yoga involves deep, controlled breathing and a focus on the present moment.

Together, these act to produce a mindful state.

How does it help? Well, things often feel overwhelming when you’re anxious and depressed. Your thoughts and emotions may feel out of control, or you may feel nothing at all. Yoga helps by giving you something to focus on.

Whether it’s a mantra, your breathing, or body posture, it grounds you in the present moment and pulls your thoughts back under control. It also makes you more self-aware in the process.

Yoga enables you to see and experience the way you feel.

Over time, you become more self-aware in general, even outside of your yoga practice. Being self-aware like this helps you spot potential problems and find ways to prevent relapse from occurring.

Yoga Impacts Your Brain

Yoga impacts brain chemistry too.

We’ve seen how exercise is great for depression and anxiety.

It works because it’s a natural way of producing chemicals called serotonin and endorphins in our brain. Low serotonin levels play a big role in depression and anxiety.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are common medication types that help raise the amounts of serotonin in our system. This decreases the symptoms of anxiety and depression as a result.

Yoga helps to modulate the levels of these chemicals in precisely the same way.

Yoga Lowers Stress Levels

Stress is a big component of depression and anxiety.

It’s hard to feel positive emotions when you’re stressed.

Thankfully, yoga helps to reduce stress levels, as well.

One way it does so is by increasing the production of Galanin, which is a neurochemical that reduces the brain/body response to stress.

Interestingly, studies also suggest a link between yoga, stress, and pain. Essentially, the more susceptible you are to stress, the less tolerant you are of pain.

This Harvard article discusses research where yoga teachers had the highest tolerance to pain and the lowest activity in areas of the brain that respond to stress.

If yoga develops our tolerance to stress and pain, then it may also build resilience against depression and anxiety.

Yoga and Physiology

The emotional aspect of depression and anxiety is often linked with a physiological reaction, too.

For instance, anxiety tends to involve an increased heart rate and sweaty palms. Yoga helps decrease this physiological arousal. Your heart rate goes down, your blood pressure lowers, and your breathing slows.

It is also said to increase our heart rate variability (HRV).

HRV is the time difference between our heartbeats. It’s thought that a higher HRV makes it easier to self-monitor and adapt to stressful situations. The higher your HRV, the more emotionally resilient you’re meant to be.

Yoga and Sleep

Some types of yoga positions, such as the ‘corpse pose’, are also known to help with sleep issues.

Sleep problems are often linked with various mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.

It’s a vicious circle.

The more tired you are, the more susceptible you are to depression and anxiety. And the more depressed and/or anxious you are, the harder it is to sleep.

Yoga and Community

A final benefit of yoga for depression and anxiety is the community aspect that can come with it.

This is an indirect bonus of yoga, but important nonetheless. After all, these mental health disorders can make you feel exceptionally lonely.

Though yoga can be done alone, group yoga is also popular and provides social interaction that’s beneficial in improving one’s mental well-being.

Yoga helps foster a sense of belonging by coming together as a group, doing the same thing, struggling over the same poses, and bonding via a shared attempt to become physically and mentally healthier.

The Amazing Benefits of Yoga for Depression and Anxiety Pathfinders - A group of individuals in recovery are practicing yoga for depression and anxiety, as well as meditation techniques from a professional yoga instructor to help with implementing healthy coping mechanisms, avoid relapse, and build a support system with the individuals in the yoga class.

The Best Yoga Poses for Anxiety and Depression

The below yoga poses are some of the poses that are meant to alleviate anxiety and depression:

The Corpse

We already know that this one helps with sleep. It also lowers your blood pressure, gets rid of headaches, and reduces fatigue.

Simply lay on your back, play dead, and breathe deeply.

Child’s Pose

Here’s another nice and easy one that has many of the same effects.

Get into the same position on your hands and knees, like a child about to start crawling. Next, sit on your heels and drop your stomach between your knees, with your hands extending far out in front of you.

Legs Up the Wall

Lay on your back, place your bum against the wall, and extend your legs upwards.

Lie there with your palms up and on the floor, to your side, for 30 seconds or so.

It’s surprisingly relaxing and helps calm your breathing and lower your blood pressure.

Important Considerations for Yoga, Depression, and Anxiety

As we’ve seen, yoga can have fantastic benefits for depression and anxiety.

However, there are certain things to consider.

For instance, it might be less suited for people with lower levels of flexibility.

It is likely to be more challenging as a beginner, and the poses can sometimes be uncomfortable initially. There’s also a risk of injury, too.

Equally, taking classes can get expensive. It might be harder for people with less expendable income to engage with.

Check with your local group or health center to see how much classes would cost.

Finally, people receiving support for depression and/or anxiety shouldn’t just drop their medication or therapeutic support.

Yoga is only recommended as a complementary approach to current treatments.

Always consult with a medical professional before changing your treatment program.

Time to Wrap Up

Anxiety and depression are debilitating mental illnesses.

Thankfully, they can be effectively treated.

Yoga treatment is one particular alternative treatment that can have significant positive effects on the way you feel.

As we’ve seen, there are many benefits of yoga for depression and anxiety.

The exercises help stimulate chemicals that improve our moods.

Its meditative nature focuses us in the present moment, enhances our self-awareness, reduces physical arousal, and helps us sleep.

It supports our response to stress and provides a sense of community that allows us to interact with others.

We hope you experience the immense benefits that yoga can bring if you decide to give it a go.

For more information on alternative treatment options, contact one of our addiction specialists today.

 

Addiction Aftercare

What is Addiction Aftercare?

Addiction aftercare is an important part of ensuring long-term sobriety.

Sobriety does not always begin and end in an addiction treatment program.

Long-term sobriety requires a long-term commitment.

This is where addiction aftercare comes in. When you complete an addiction treatment program, you may be anxious about what happens next.

When you choose Pathfinders’ luxury treatment center, we will help you find guidance and support long after your program is complete.

Choosing Pathfinders means choosing long-term sobriety and incredible peace of mind.

Addiction Aftercare Pathfinders - A group of individuals that has completed treatment is taking part in a group therapy session at a reputable rehab center for addiction aftercare to ensure they stay on the path of sobriety

Addiction Treatment and Addiction Aftercare

There are many options available to you when it comes to addiction treatment programs and addiction aftercare programs, .

Whether you have completed a residential inpatient program, outpatient program, or a supplemental treatment that landed somewhere in between, you may not feel ready yet to face your sobriety alone.

During your addiction treatment, you learned how to build healthy support systems, habits, and coping mechanisms. You learned how to manage your addiction and avoid relapse.

But, what happens when you feel unprepared to face these tasks alone? You choose not to.

Professionals in addiction health care have long sworn that remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.

Research in this area shows us that most people will need at least three months in treatment to reduce or stop their drug use significantly.

They take it a step further to ensure that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.

Whether your addiction treatment program lasted 30 days or one year, the support and guidance you receive only stop there if you let them.

Addiction aftercare is ideal for those who need help enforcing their sobriety, building effective support systems, and participating in recovery groups that will help keep you on track.

 

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Why is Addiction Aftercare is Often Necessary?

As you likely know by now, addiction is a chronic illness. This is not something to hide or be ashamed of.

Addiction is chronic the same way diabetes is.

Removing the stigma from your addiction will help you reevaluate your need for continued care.

Addiction, whether it is drugs or alcohol, is lifelong.

There is no quick fix or cure.

The good thing is that addiction can be effectively managed and treated with comprehensive care and long-term support.

There is no shame in admitting that you are not ready to face your sobriety alone.

This is the reason why addiction aftercare was created.

We want you to have access to medical, physical, and emotional support, guidance, and ongoing maintenance for as long as you need it.

We will help you manage your disorder so you can maintain your sobriety and good health.

Maintaining your sobriety and health can also improve all other aspects of your life.

As you progress through addiction aftercare, you may notice that you have naturally developed better communication skills, relationships, and financial habits.

 

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Addiction Aftercare vs. Other Addiction Treatment Programs

During your initial addiction treatment program, you have gone through the detox, withdrawals, and the early learning stage.

You have developed a deeper understanding of your addiction and the underlying factors that contribute to it.

You have used therapeutic and holistic techniques to improve your mental and physical health.

Achieving sobriety in your addiction treatment program is a major accomplishment to be celebrated.

But, it is not one that should later bring you fear.

Once your program ends, you should not feel like you have to move forward alone from here.

Addiction Aftercare Settings

Addiction aftercare is simply the next logical step after you achieve initial sobriety.

It can be done in an inpatient setting, intensive outpatient, or traditional outpatient setting.

12-step programs are some of the most common addiction aftercare services.

In any setting, addiction aftercare can help you find support in a safe and comfortable environment, and make it easier to avoid relapse.

It comes as no surprise that patients who participate in addiction aftercare programs often experience lower relapse rates than patients who do not.

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the care you need.

We will tailor your addiction aftercare program to best meet your unique needs and circumstances.

Addiction Aftercare Pathfinders - A man who has completed his initial addiction treatment is now participating in addiction aftercare by virtually holding a one-on-one counseling session with an experienced rehab facilitator to help him stay free from addiction

 

Recovery Groups

When you are working toward long-term sobriety and a healthy, fulfilled life, seeking addiction aftercare in recovery groups can help in various ways.

Participating in addiction management in group settings helps you hold yourself accountable. You will also be able to swap stories with others on the same journey and learn from their experiences.

This may feel strange or uncomfortable for addicts starting their original addiction treatment program.

But, you are likely used to group settings by now. In recovery groups, you can benefit from a supportive environment, receive encouragement and advice, and maintain anonymity if you choose.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two of the most common examples of these groups. They provide social and complementary support to other addiction treatments.

In these types of settings, you can continue to develop effective strategies for dealing with stress and managing your condition.

Common Problems After Addiction Treatment

The same way that your original addiction treatment program did not rely on a singular technique; your addiction aftercare program will not, either.

Addictions often come with ongoing, systemic issues.

Maintaining your sobriety will include overcoming barriers and hurdles after your program ends.

You may have trouble finding a job or home. You may face distressing legal troubles, as well.

The stress and worry that stem from complications like these can be significant triggers for substance abuse.

Avoiding relapse will require a dedicated, long-term approach.

Addiction aftercare can help.

 

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Treatment Methods Used in Addiction Aftercare

Depending on your needs, you may have access to many of the following:

  • Career guidance and support
  • Legal guidance and support
  • Support through life transitions like relocations, job changes, and family problems
  • Ongoing case and addiction management
  • Substance monitoring
  • Life coaching and effective goal setting
  • Relationship and support group building
  • Academic support for those furthering their education
  • Support and guidance with budgeting and general financial planning

Addiction aftercare focuses on providing help, encouragement, guidance, and advice on maintaining sobriety and building the life you want.

Many people who have struggled with addiction do not have these same types of support systems at home.

We are here to fill in the gaps.

You have everything you need within you to build the life you choose.

Let us help you work through all of the other details and set you firmly on the path to finding it.

Paying for Addiction Aftercare

Most major insurance providers help in covering the cost of addiction treatments.

At Pathfinders, we accept most major insurance providers to make it easier for our patients to get the care they need and deserve.

If you are unsure of your coverage, call our addiction counselor to get an insurance verification.

They are always available to help.

If you do not have insurance, they will be happy to discuss each of your treatment and payment options to work out what is best for you.

 

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Pathfinders’ Addiction Aftercare

Pathfinders Recovery Center offers luxury addiction treatments that meet a variety of needs.

We have received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

We are proud to have committed ourselves to provide comprehensive care throughout each stage of the recovery process.

Whether you completed your initial program here or elsewhere, our addiction aftercare is open to you.

We are here to help you achieve a sober life so you can reach each of your long-term goals.