Does Drug Addiction Run in Families?

There are a lot of different factors that contribute to a person’s chances of developing a drug addiction. A person’s upbringing and their family influence are all things to consider when learning about drug addiction.

This article explores some of the ways that drug addiction may run in families. As parents, understanding this can help you learn how to avoid passing unhealthy behaviors down to children. As drug users, understanding this can help one learn how to overcome their problem.

How does family life affect a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction?

There are a few ways that a family can affect a person’s chances of using drugs.


The verdict is out as to whether or not addiction should actually be considered a hereditary condition. That is, there’s no concrete link between genes being passed from parent to child that directly increase the chances of addiction.

However, research into epigenetics shows that parents may pass on certain genetic influences that cause various issues. For example, they may pass on a gene that is more likely to be ‘expressed,’ or active, that causes the body to produce more or less of a certain hormone. This might make a child more likely to develop addiction than someone without this gene being expressed.

Family Influence

While there isn’t much of a conclusive link between addiction and heredity, there’s no doubt that family influence can contribute to addiction.

Addiction Among Family Members

Many people who struggle with drug addiction also come from families where members struggled with addiction. When this is the case, people often learn from an early age that drug use or alcohol use are appropriate coping mechanisms.

As they grow up, they may be more likely to turn to these coping mechanisms than people who were raised to families where there was no drug or alcohol use, or where drugs were actively shunned.

On the other hand, the opposite may also be true. Some people find that they are so repulsed by the way that drugs or alcohol make their parents behave that they are turned away from them forever.

Traumatic Childhood Responses

Another reason that addiction may be passed down among family members is because of trauma. If a parent never learns to work through a learned traumatic behavior, they may then pass this on to their children.

Childhood traumatic experiences make people much more likely to develop problems with drug addiction. Learning to cope with trauma is one of the best ways to overcome these types of drug addiction, and it’s wise to have a solid understanding of your own traumatic history before having children and risking passing the problem onto them. Dual diagnosis treatment centers San Diego can be useful for helping to identify trauma and addiction.


Some children may be more likely to develop a drug addiction if their parents struggle with addiction, but there’s little research to confirm whether or not this link is hereditary. Consider contacting one of the many dual diagnosis treatment centers San Diego to help ensure that you can identify any co-occurring issues like trauma and addiction.

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