How does Substance Abuse get Passed Down from Generation to Generation?

Generation to Generation

In 2014, the Huffington Post described a story of a family working through alcoholism. Here is one excerpt from the article:

Wendy and Jack’s son is working with his psychiatrist and getting help for his depression and anxiety. He seems to be bingeing much less. When the family went out to dinner on a recent night, the parents each ordered a beer or a glass of wine and sipped slowly through dinner. “How will he learn moderation if he doesn’t see it modeled?” Wendy asked.

Genetics have long been a topic of discussion regarding alcoholism being passed down in families. Research states that genes making someone more susceptible to alcoholism can be passed down, but that alone is typically not the only cause for it. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states that genetics make up 50% of the risk for alcohol and drug dependence, but a person’s environment, parents, expectancies of what drinking, and drugs will do, and one’s individual response to drugs or alcohol can also all take part.

For example, growing up in a family with parents who partake in substance abuse or have alcoholism can predispose a person, making them at higher risk for also developing it later because as the child’s brain is growing, they are learning more about what is considered “acceptable” and “appropriate”. If the child sees their parent drink when they are angry, upset, or even happy, the child may learn that if they feel angry, upset, or happy they should comfort themselves with a drink. What makes family addiction so hard to break?

What we see growing up has a direct impact on the decisions we make in childhood, through adolescents, and as adults. Perhaps you’ve grown up with parents who drank a lot and you decided to remain sober because of what you saw – that is certainly an outcome that can occur. Unfortunately, many others continue in the path of other family members by reenacting what they see growing up; it’s all they know and are comfortable with. The best way we can combat this is to educate ourselves and our children on the dangers of alcoholism and substance abuse, to seek help before things get worse and to maintain open communication with one another.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse treatment program. We believe in holistic recovery, meaning that we will work with you to restore your mind, body, and spirit. If you’re seeking treatment for either substance abuse or dual diagnosis, call us at 888-743-0490. There are many people that can help you develop the tools you need to succeed.