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Genetics impact a person’s risk of developing substance abuse and influence how they react to treatment. Some individuals may also have a higher risk of relapse caused by specific genes. Additional therapeutic support and prescription medication may be necessary to manage symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Substance use disorders are heritable and influenced by complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors.” West Coast Recovery Centers addresses the role of genetics in substance abuse using psychoeducation, psychotherapy, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Clinicians use personalized care plans to ensure clients have the tools and resources to manage their condition. 

What Is the Role of Genetics in Substance Abuse?

Genetics affects how the body metabolizes and uses certain substances. Some genes may increase the risk of dependency and addiction. Genes also change how the body responds to drugs and treatment for substance abuse. According to Drug and Alcohol Dependence, “Twin studies of SUD consistently report that substance initiation is significantly influenced by genetic as well as shared and unique environmental factors.” Genetics may play an important role in the development of substance abuse for some individuals. Treatment programs address underlying issues impacting sobriety, including genetic or environmental factors. 

Genetics have the potential to impact a person’s tolerance for drugs or alcohol. In addition, addictive behaviors and their influence on a person’s mental health may affect stress tolerance. Some of the genes associated with SUD include: 

  • GABRA2 and CHRM2: Genes related to alcohol dependence 
  • MAOA, SLC6A4, and COMT: Genes that impact the effects of certain substances on the brain by regulating neurotransmitters
  • CHRNA2: A protein-coding gene that affects how the brain responds to specific signals caused by substance abuse or addictive substances 
  • CUL3, PDE4B, and PTGER3: Genes related to marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol addiction 

Other genes may also play a role in the development of SUD, treatment efficiency, and long-term recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers collaborates closely with clients and their loved ones to find healthy ways to manage various factors, including genetics contributing to addictive behaviors. Individuals genetically predisposed to aspects of SUD are not destined to become addicted to substances, and they are not doomed to remain addicted. Treatment and sobriety are possible for everyone diagnosed with SUD. Some people require additional support and treatment to address genetic or environmental factors.

Do Genetics Predetermine Substance Abuse?

Genetics do not predetermine substance abuse. According to NIDA, “No single factor determines whether a person will develop [SUD].” Meanwhile, millions of people without genetic factors develop SUD. In addition, many people with a genetic risk of substance abuse avoid ever misusing alcohol or drugs. Genetics is a potential risk factor and not proof someone will or has developed addictive behaviors. 

The Impact of Genetics on Substance Abuse

A combination of genetic and environmental factors may influence the development of SUD by doing the following: 

  • Making some individuals more susceptible to addictive behaviors 
  • Increasing the risk of substance dependence
  • Making it more difficult for the body to regulate or metabolize certain substances 

Normalizing family conversations about mental health topics, including substance abuse, makes it easier to recognize warning signs of addiction. Close relatives, including siblings and children, deserve to know if they may have a genetic risk of substance abuse or mental health disorders. 

How Does West Coast Recovery Centers Address Genetics in Substance Abuse

Everyone has different factors affecting their sobriety and mental health. According to Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “Addictions are common, chronic, and relapsing diseases that develop through a multistep process.” Treatment involves addressing all underlying issues related to substance abuse, including genetic factors. Genetics impact substance abuse and recovery by making it more difficult for some people to avoid intrusive cravings. Often, additional prescription medications are necessary to help people manage more severe symptoms or side effects caused by genetic abnormalities.

Genetics and Relapse Prevention

Some genetic factors may increase a person’s risk of relapse during treatment and aftercare by making them more susceptible to cravings or intrusive thoughts. Chemical changes in the body impact how people respond to abstinence and their ability to maintain long-term sobriety. According to Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, “Genetic manipulation, combined with behavioral relapse models, provides a powerful approach for investigating the relevance of particular genes to relapse.” Genetics plays a role in the prevention and instigation of substance abuse.

Science still has a long way to go before people use genetic treatments to reduce the risk of relapse in addiction recovery. However, medications may help some people by reducing cravings and other symptoms of SUD. West Coast Recovery Centers conducts comprehensive assessments and testing to determine if clients have genetic factors impacting their physical or mental health. The care team uses cutting-edge treatments and complementary therapeutic techniques to address genetics-related factors.

Genetics plays a role in how people respond to chronic substance abuse and various treatment options. Some individuals require tailored treatment programs to successfully manage risks related to genetics. For example, some people may have genetic predispositions to addictive behaviors, and treatment must address these issues by helping people develop healthy coping skills. West Coast Recovery Centers offers personalized treatment programs to individuals struggling with substance abuse. The care team collaborates with clients to determine the best way to address genetic issues contributing to substance abuse. Family engagement in therapy can help clients address genetic issues impacting their recovery. To learn more about our programs and specialized treatment, call our office today at (760) 492-6509.