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The Science Behind Genetic Factors in Addiction

There is so much that has been learned about addiction and alcoholism in the last 50+ years. A number of lives that have been saved and affected because of Alcoholics Anonymous and our grown understanding of alcoholic thinking is remarkable. However, there is still so much to be learned and understood. Was it really us and our genetic factors in addiction or is it the combination of being in the wrong place and wrong time that created the drunks we are today? Alcoholic thinking and the forms of dependency that accompany it will forever be one of those debates about whether nature versus nurture took over first.

Science is still at a standstill with breaking down and understanding all the components that cause one to exhibit such behaviors. The conclusion of it being a disease is really one of the most concrete points the top brains of our world have been able to deduce- and even that’s still iffy to some. Yes, it can be marveled as a disease because of the blunt factors that do exist such an addict’s willingness to continue to harm him or herself because of such chemical obsession. Then, on the other hand, there are those that argue that it cannot be passed along like a disease and that there isn’t any known treatment for such except abstaining in recovery.

Whatever side of the fence one chooses to stand on, there are certain genetic factors in addiction that cannot be ignored when breaking down the chemical composition of what makes an alcoholic actually an alcoholic.

What Makes Us Tick?

Well, I guess the big question remains- are there genetic factors in addiction that make us walk and talk like we do? Is it more than just the social factors in life that drive us to put the bottle to our lips? Surely like some believe- we were born this way. Recent revelations in science and the study of alcoholism believe that there are genes that can be misplaced through procreation that are responsible, or at the very least are linked to specific genetic factors in addiction.

It is now believed that defective parts of the gene casein kinase1-epsilon (CSNK1E) help to raise opioid’s euphoric responses in the brain and helps to produce a substantial increase in sensitivity to binge eating with the female specifically instead of males. Essentially it’s now believed that they same genes responsible for eating disorders and binge eating are connected to those giving us that high we crave in opiates- but only with women. Confusing.

The study at the very least has provided more insight on the alcoholic compositions of men and women with how their alcoholic thinking is genetically built in different ways. It’s actually fascinating to think about the developments being made in the study of addiction because of research like this.


Mystery Surrounds  

CSNK1E is a very mysterious gene that seems to not only separate different aspects of alcoholic thinking but as well as the pieces that define gender through the disease. “CSNK1E could function as a potential risk factor that influences the initial pleasurable/euphoric response to opioids and thus, could ultimately have implications for personalized medicine with regard to drug choice for therapeutic treatment,” says  Camron Bryant, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics & psychiatry at BUSM.

Although the talk of experimental treatment is on the horizon for addicts and alcoholics, as of right now it’s all hearsay. Just like the big books states, to this day, science has not found a cure for alcoholism- YET. As of right now, recovery and abstaining from the detrimental substances that shroud our thinking is what’s imperative. There is limited understanding and solution to this disease- but it does exist. Unfortunately, there are many alcoholics that have not crossed path with the 12 steps or found the known solutions yet.

We the addicted leech onto anything that makes us feel good and gives a reaction to the pleasure center in our brains where all the dopamine is released. Addicts and alcoholics will chase this feeling through any means necessary whether from sex and chocolate, from gambling to exercise, or from drugs and alcohol. This news that there are certain genetic factors in addiction that might separate what we thought we knew already is fascinating.

The Inevitable

The disease of addiction ropes the individual into chemical dependency and/or forming other habits that can be harmful to a person’s health despite the clear consequences at hand. Whether genetic factors in addiction are to blame or peer pressure is the immature culprit, the disease of addiction will drag men and women through patterns or behaviors that only bring along detrimental results from poor choices. As the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “Remember that we deal with alcohol- cunning, baffling, powerful.”  It takes a strong mental hold and can sway whichever way we go with every step.

Addiction and alcoholism are not something that can just be cured and gotten rid of. It is a mental disorder, a disease, and an allergy all in one that we carry for life. It is important to keep in mind for us true addicts and alcoholics that the allergy we carry for alcohol and other “feel goods” never goes away. Even upon getting clean and sober for an extended period of time, neither addiction nor alcoholism will disappear completely- especially if it is genetically embedded like we believe it to be.

What We Know

Having to accept something you don’t like can put anybody’s feathers in a ruffle. Addiction and alcoholism don’t give you a choice. They force you to take the facts as they come and there isn’t a pause button to this movie. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 1-800-481-8457 or visit oarcstaging.wpengine.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.

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