Predisposition to Substance Use

You’ve probably heard about the concept of predisposition. Namely, that if someone, or multiple people in your family, have a substance use disorder (SUD), that you are more likely to experience the same outcome for yourself. This is based on a person’s DNA or genetic makeup. Predisposition is generally seen because of certain variations of genes that are passed on from one’s parents. As noted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, while these genes do not specifically cause a disease, they do increase the likelihood of the development of the disease. An interesting note is that not everyone within a family will end up getting a disease, it may pass over children and show up again in grandchildren. There is also the possibility that everyone within a family will end up getting the disease. It really comes down to what side of statistics your family’s genes happen to be on. In some cases, genetic variations account for only a small chance of developing a disease, however, the more genes that carry a variation, the greater the likelihood of disease development.

Epigenetics is something that should also be discussed here because it is the study of either inherited or sometimes the functional change in how the genetic activity is regulated within the body. It also works to explain gene expression, and how it works without dependence of the order of gene codes. It seeks to explain the fact that some genes are actually altered by environmental factors and other contributors that can change the way a person’s genes work. Often, epigenetics ends up being problematic for your children rather than for yourself. Breaking it down, essentially, what you are exposed to now and the things that you do to your body has the potential to significantly impact the way your genes show themselves in your children. Therefore, participating in substance use, for example, has the chance of altering your genetic makeup and passing along mutated genes to the next generation, without you even realizing it. Histones are also commonly studied within the topic of predisposition. Histones are explained as being what gives genes organizational structure. Genes use histones for the purpose of either having more or less control over gene expression. Research has indicated that there is a possibility of being able to manage those enzymes that seek to alter histones, which may have significant positive impacts on the future of SUD treatment.

Beyond Genetics

Even though genetics have been said to play a role in the development of SUDs, there is a little bit more to it than that. Some people begin using substances and their family members have never done so. There can be a feeling of wanting to simply try a substance or seeking out substances as a means of escaping things that you are feeling or experiencing. You may have been influenced to try a substance or felt pressured into it at the time. No matter why a person started using substances, the fact remains that they were ultimately a product of their environment at that moment, and their surrounds shaped their actions, and ultimately impacted in a negative way. Now, if you are someone who has never used substances or does so on occasion, it is important to pay attention to yourself and recognize that family ties may be important to you. It is not to say that because your parents were alcoholics that you will be too, however, you may be more likely to become one because of that fact. In this case, if you are someone who likes to come home from work and have a drink of some sort, but one turns into two, and then suddenly it’s five or ten, you have to be aware of your intake. Furthermore, if you feel yourself falling into a perhaps problematic habit, catch yourself and work to maybe find something else to do when you get off work or just simply being aware of yourself. It may be easier said than done, but you have the chance to not fall into the same patterns as your parents maybe did and you can be the difference for yourself, your future children, and maybe even help those in your family who need your support to move into recovery and work towards a better future. What you do now will impact your entire life and it’s important to keep that in perspective.

If you are currently suffering from a SUD, there is a chance that you feel like it is the fault of your family because they too partook in substance use. Whether they did so before you were born or have been doing so as long as you can remember, their use may have impacted yours. We want you to know that you can break the cycle and stop the appearance of substance use in your family and we want to help you. Make a personal investment in yourself and get help today by calling us at (805)719-7954.

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