Addiction Genetics; The Genes Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

“He’s a chip off the old block”. “Like father like son”. Sound familiar? Two phases often used when we are proud of our children and looking to take a little credit for their virtues. However, when it comes to addiction and the psychiatric pathology that goes along with it, this is where the problem often lies.

When addiction rears its ugly head in a family, particularly when it is associated with a psychiatric illness or diagnosis, it is almost never the index case within the family. When you take a close at the family tree of the addict and pay particular attention to substance abuse history and psychiatric history you will more often than not see that the origins of the current problem lies in the genes of the individual. Let’s look at two particular problems, bipolar disorder and ADD. If a parent is bipolar then their offspring is six times more likely to be bipolar and if the parent has ADD then their children are ten times more likely to be ADD than those children who come from “normal” parents.

Think about your own experiences have had the opportunity to know the parents and watch the children grow up just like them. This is why many kids have no real chance to escape their pathology and that they are doomed from the outset to repeat the sins of their parents.

We must keep this in mind when creating a treatment plan for any person who has entered rehab. It is why in our program we spend a significant amount of time looking at the family. We look at the dynamics and the family history and use that to create a family treatment plan that best addresses everyone’s needs. It also helps us in recognizing the true dual diagnoses that a client is dealing with which we believe assists in treatment success.

Back to top