The Role of Genetics in Addiction
How important is the role of genetics in determining whether a person will have the disease of addiction?
It is not about willpower, scruples or toilet training…it’s about the gene pool…it’s about chance…it’s about understanding that addiction is a disease that can be inherited.
Addiction is the repetitive, compulsive use of ( ) despite adverse consequences…characterized by denial.
(Fill in the blank — alcohol, drugs, prescription medicine, sex, gambling, food, nicotine, shopping)
Adverse consequences can be obvious — like driving into a tree at 95 miles per hour in a school zone while intoxicated…or subtle — like consistently being late for work only on Monday mornings because we’re hung over from the weekend. But even though our boss warns us about our tardiness, we still do it. That’s addiction.
Denial is the defense mechanism of the addicted individual. They’re good at it. Lying, cheating, stealing, conniving and manipulating is how they survive — how they stay out of the quicksand. Denial is a pathologic adaptation to aberrant neurochemistry…it’s survival behavior…It’s an inappropriate message.
Everything the addicted person does that surrounds their drug or alcohol use becomes a Kodak snapshot that is indelibly stored in their amygdala as an emotional memory…and they are rewarded only upon recreation of the Kodak snapshot. Failure to do so relegates them to the quicksand.
So addiction behavior is really adapting to aberrant neurochemistry in order to survive. Denial can rule the addicted person’s life. It’s the disease talking; "You don’t have a problem." So the addictive behavior keeps being repeated despite adverse consequences. That’s addiction.