It’s common knowledge that certain traits are shared between generations. For example, a father with a Scandinavian lineage has a more than fair chance of passing bright blue eyes and pale blond hair on to his descendants. The blending of two sets of chromosomes between a loving couple is one of the greatest wonders in biology, but there’s growing evidence that this miracle doesn’t end at similarities in physical characteristics. Disease and susceptibility to certain inherited medical conditions comes from this intermixing of familial DNA, and this biological dynamic extends to the brain.The intellectual center of the dominant species on this planet, the brain is a miraculous thinking machine, but it’s also vulnerable to a range of genetic predispositions that encompass both the physical and mental domain. A physical factor may be the root cause of a brain tumor or an aneurysm. The mental component is just as hazardous to health in its own way, and a bias toward addiction is one possible path this genetic quirk may take. Is alcohol addiction hereditary? The answer isn’t the resounding yes that some might imagine, but clinical studies have observed finite differences in nucleotide sequences within some individuals, patients that have a known susceptibility to substance dependence (www.drugabuse.gov
).These studies do appear to prove the connection between genetics and addiction, but such vulnerabilities can’t explain every case of addiction. There are other influences to factor in to these studies. So, is drug addiction hereditary? Is habit-forming consumption of alcohol partly caused by genetics? The answer is yes, the human genome is responsible for a vulnerability to dependence, but only partially. After all, most of these clinical studies are ongoing and inconclusive. Look for the culprit in other places, within the nature versus nurture argument where toddlers watch their parents drink every day. Look to the formative years where infants absorb every action, storing the behavior away at the core of their being.Addiction is a disease, and knowledge of the genetic component will aid treatment, creating new courses of medication, but the environmental factor plays at least as large a part in this unhealthy dynamic. The faulty train of thought and poor judgment that leads to dependency requires therapy and a cognizant approach that balances the chemical treatment. Accept the studies that support this genetic predisposition by all means, but don’t underestimate the developmental perspective (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
), the complex interplay of family factors.
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