A family history of addiction affects your chances of addiction in many ways. For many people fighting drug addiction and/or alcoholism, they have a family member battling the same thing. Whether it be a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or grandparent, there’s no doubt it has a big impact on your life. Many of us see those family members struggling with their addiction and make one of two choices; run away are far as you can from it or unconsciously fall into the same patterns and behaviors by following the same cycle of addiction. There are both genetic and environmental factors that come into play that can determine which path a person might take.
Family Addiction History
Dealing with a family history of addiction is never an easy thing. The fact of the matter is, thousands of people die each year due to drugs; and those numbers are steadily rising. It is important to do whatever you can to break the cycle of addiction and alcoholism in your family rather than becoming another statistic. According to the CDC:
Over 770,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses since 1999, and the total number of deaths jumped from 16,849 in 1999 to a high mark of 70,237 in 2017.
The interaction of “nature” (genetics) and “nurture” (culture) on families is complex. Both have deep, lasting effects on family members starting at a young age, and, when untreated, can lead to a continuation of unhealthy patterns for generations. While it isn’t for certain that you will become a drug addict or alcoholic if a family member is one, you certainly are predisposed and you should do everything possible to protect yourself from falling in down the same path. You are at a higher risk, genetically and environmentally.
How to Stay Away from Addiction
While you cannot do anything about your genetic background, you certainly can take steps to preserve your health if addiction and alcoholism is a part of your family history:
- Research your family history: You can ask your parents and other relatives whether addiction or alcoholism runs in your family. Being well informed about your family’s history can help secure your future. You can let your family members know that you want to gather information to secure your own wellbeing.
- Let your health care providers know about your family history: It is a good idea to notify your doctors about your family history of drug and alcohol abuse. If you are in pain, your health care provider can suggest options to deal with pain other than possibly addiction opioids.
If you have a family member, or if you are struggling with the tight hooks of addiction or alcoholism, there are also some things you can do for yourself or your family member to get help.
- Try or suggest therapy or counseling: Whether it is one on one therapy or group therapy, both are helpful options to talk about what you are dealing with and come up with a solid plan to face the problem of addiction. It is important to get to the root of the problem in order to overcome it.
- Try or suggest drug treatment: Treatment not only gets a person off of the drugs, it helps them learn effective techniques to stay off of drugs but learning healthy coping mechanisms to deal with triggers and cravings. It also provides the opportunity to connect and talk with other addicts and alcoholics who are facing a lot of the same problems.
- Try or suggest a 12 step program: Taking a family member, or yourself, that is battling an addiction to a 12 step meeting can provide hope to that person by showing them there is a way out of the life they are leading. It also allows them to connect with other addicts and alcoholics who can provide support.
Just because addiction or alcoholism runs in your family does not mean you have doomed an addict’s death. You do have a way to break the cycle. Drug addiction and alcoholism aren’t easy things to face. Luckily you do not have to face it on your own. Our admissions counselors and professionals are available around the clock. We are ready to help you or a loved one overcome the disease of addiction. Now is the time to change your life. Let us help you do it.