The Genetics of Addiction & the Myth of Addictive Personalities
A recent study conducted among students attending Rutgers University shows members of Generation Z are particularly interested in genetic testing, especially the kind that may reveal if they have traits that may predispose them toward substance abuse and dependence. The study, which was published in the June 2023 edition of the American Journal of Medical Genetics, showed young adults are keen on the idea of finding out if they have “addictive genes.” Armed with this information, young adults may take lifestyle precautions to moderate their substance use and prevent dependence. This research is significant because genetic susceptibility to chemical dependence has been determined in recent years, and here we have a generational market demand for such knowledge. Keep reading as the addiction recovery specialists from Sober Lifestyle Coaching, the top providers of recovery coach services in Encinitas, explore whether addicts are born or made.
The Urban Legend of “Crack Babies”
During some of the wildest years of the Reagan-Bush era, many Americans were exposed to sensationalized news reports of babies born with crack addictions. The urban legend probably started in low-income communities where crack abuse had become problematic, and it spilled over to established media outlets such as Newsweek, which in the late 1980s ran cover stories about “crack babies.” In the years since “crack babies” made news headlines, medical researchers have determined the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure aren’t as severe as was originally believed. Moreover, there was nothing to suggest maternal addictive behavior somehow crossed the placenta.
The Per2 Gene & Addiction
Three months after the aforementioned Rutgers University study, a team of South Korean and German researchers published their findings from a laboratory project that sequenced and analyzed a gene expression known as Period 2 (Per2), which is associated with sleep cycles. Using mice that had become dependent on cocaine and methamphetamine, the researchers detected a high propensity toward addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms in the rodents that showed insufficient Per2 levels. The study also revealed the interaction of two other gene expressions that require further research, but they strongly suggest this genetic trio could be targeted for treatments related to stimulant addiction. This is just one example of various research efforts that are illuminating the misguided concept of addictive personalities.
The Problem with Oversimplifying Addictive Personality
Addiction is a complex disorder influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors. For this reason, the notion of addictive personalities shouldn’t be confined to genetics. Despite the growing body of research showing gene expressions associated with an increased risk of addiction, there’s nothing that guarantees a person will become addicted. They simply increase a person’s susceptibility to addiction. In the absence of substance abuse or environmental factors, the mechanisms of addiction cannot take hold because the potentially susceptible neurotransmitters and receptors aren’t being affected.
All Addicts Are Made
Even if you’re born with all the possible gene expressions and permutations that can easily make you an addict, you won’t automatically fall into dependence. The researchers in the Per2 gene study noted that not all the cocaine- and meth-addicted mice exhibited the same degree of chemical dependence. Some of the rodents handled withdrawal symptoms more efficiently than others. Just as there’s a journey to recovery, there’s also a journey to addiction, but the latter is more direct and much faster. It takes action to fall into addiction, and it takes action to recover. This is why sober lifestyle coaching is effective for many patients.
For strength-based support with addiction recovery, Encinitas residents can rely on the trained recovery coaches at Sober Lifestyle Coaching. We know precisely what it takes to get sober, stay sober, and live the healthy lifestyle you deserve. We specialize in working with clients with active addictions as well as clients already in recovery. Our sober coaches help clients work through potentially challenging events such as going to work and attending family gatherings while providing encouragement, accountability, insight, and understanding through our own recovery experiences. To learn more about how a sober lifestyle coach can help you or someone you love, call us at 760-300-8338.