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Is Addiction Passed Down Through Family?

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Addiction is a complicated disease that affects the individual that is addicted and their family members too. It strains relationships in the family and causes family members to be on edge and worry more about their loved one that is struggling with addiction.  

Is Addiction Genetic?

Many research studies have found that there is a genetic component to addiction. They have found that if a person in your family faces addiction, you are more likely to develop an addiction if you start using drugs. There is not a particular gene that causes addiction, but rather several have been identified as contributing to addiction. These studies have also determined that having these addiction risk genes does not guarantee that an individual will develop an addiction. Instead, it means that one is more vulnerable to developing an addiction when using a drug compared to others that do not have the gene. Genetics account for about 40-50% of their risk of developing an addiction.

The Role of Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Family therapy in addiction treatment seeks to address problematic family dynamics that contribute to continuing the cycle of addiction. The biggest goal of family therapy is prevention of ongoing addiction. It helps to stop family dynamics that also encourage enabling the addict and family dynamics that may contribute to other family members developing an addiction later. 

How to Talk to Your Family About Addiction

  • Approach them with a non-threatening attitude. People struggling with addiction frequently receive criticism for their drug use. Therefore, they are likely to become defensive when confronted about their use if it is addressed in a way that makes them feel attacked. Ensure that your tone, body language, and words are neutral. 
  • Validate their experience. Many people struggling with addiction either actively want to stop using or have tried to stop using in the past and have had difficulty stopping their use. They may feel a lot of guilt or shame for continuing to use, contributing to their instinct to become defensive when confronted. Before confronting them on their addiction, tell them you understand where they’re at right now. An example of how you can phrase this is, “I know you’ve been struggling for a long time and we’re here to support you.”
  • Prepare what you want to say to them ahead of time. You may have a lot of difficult feelings around your family member’s drug use, such as anger, resentment, sadness. These are all normal feelings, but you still need to be mindful about how you depict your feelings to them. Again, if they become defensive, they are more likely to check out and stop listening. Before beginning your conversation with them, take time to prepare what you want to say to them and how you want to say it so that it is neutral. 
  • Plan your talk with your family member at an appropriate time. Make sure that it is convenient for everyone involved in the conversation when you decide to talk to them so that the individual is more likely to listen. If they are worried about other things that they had planned for that time or vice versa, then they may be defensive from the start because their mind is preoccupied with other obligations that they are worried about.
  • Get other family members involved. Include other family members that may be strong support for the individual struggling with addiction. It’s crucial that they see that there are many people who care for them and wish the best for them to know that they are not alone while they are seeking recovery.

How to Find Family Therapy Treatment in Santa Monica, CA

Thrive Treatment offers comprehensive services to clients experiencing mental health or substance use concerns. We have expert clinicians available that provide case management services, individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Each client has an individualized treatment plan that is unique to their recovery. We offer different levels of care, including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, sober living houses, and aftercare. Contact us today to find out how we can help you through your recovery!

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