Can Addiction Be Predicted?

unpredictability of addiction

The subject of addiction and what causes it is rife with theories. Any area of life or behavior which is problematic and not well understood all too frequently lends itself to a plethora of complexities and proposed solutions which ultimately prove unworkable and do not result in a betterment of the condition. So it is with addiction; the speculation and theorizing as to what causes it and what cures it—and whether or not it can be genetically predicted.

Addiction Predictive Factors

A person is much more than merely the sum total of his or her genes—those basic physical units of heredity which determine such things as the color of our eyes or our hair or our skin; or how tall we will be as an adult.

A person is, in fact, a composite of body, mind, and spirit; and while genetics may be the determining physical factor, the person who gives life and animation to that physical presence is the one who will determine the course of his or her life, and whether or not to succumb to addiction.

While there are physical factors that can increase the risk of turning to drugs, such as pains and chronic discomforts or actual physical disabilities which inhibit a person’s quality of life, there are other factors as well which can put a person more at risk of drug use.

Risks could include environmental factors such as poverty, peer influences, the type of work a person is engaged in, high-stress factors, or even cultural attitudes.

Risks could include environmental factors such as poverty, peer influences, the type of work a person is engaged in, high-stress factors, or even cultural attitudes.


Individual risk factors could include such things as child abuse, a loss of a loved one, physical injury, poor academic performance and academic stresses, peer pressure, social inadequacies…

Individual risk factors could include such things as child abuse, a loss of a loved one, physical injury, poor academic performance and academic stresses, peer pressure, social inadequacies, a poor education, or lacking the life skills necessary to deal with life situations or other people.

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While some individuals have a greater physical, mental and spiritual tolerance for the stresses and challenges of life, others do not, and as a result may be at risk of turning to drugs as an escape from what seems to be a hopeless or intolerable existence, or to escape problems which seem to have no solution.

Addiction is Not Inherited

An analysis based on extensive research on the correlation between genetics and addictive behaviors published in 2012 concluded there is no evidence that genetic or biological mechanisms for addictive behavior have been identified, “or that addictive behavior is therefore inherited.”

According to Dr. Stanton Peele’s research, the widely used “inherited addiction gene theory” revealed that addiction is far too complicated to be contained in a simple gene which a person inherits.

According to another expert in the field of drug addiction and rehabilitation, Chairman of St. Jude Retreats, Mark Scheeren, the bottom line on substance abuse is a conscious decision on the part of the individual to drink and/or drug. Furthermore, he adds that despite what rehabilitation programs may like you to believe, there is in fact “no gene of addiction.”

Dr. Peele further addresses the “gene theory of addiction” by delineating a multitude of reasons why people make a choice to drink alcohol, and it varies by environment and circumstances—not by genetics nor by “neurochemistry in the brain.”

Moreover, Peele points out that people are unable to take in the facts about addiction which surround them because they “are blinded by genetic theories.”

He points out, as well, that a person becoming—and remaining—addicted has much more to do with their expectations and beliefs about substances or activities, or with the groups they come from and associate, with rather than from a biological make-up.

An interesting point made by Peele as a result of his extensive research is that pleasurable activities a person can experience and repeat again and again include far more than just substance use.

Always, there is the person’s power of choice involved, and that supersedes any genetics.

Factual information backed-up with understanding, common sense and good powers of observation would permit nearly any person to make an accurate and educated prediction on whether a person is likely to become addicted, or not.


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AUTHOR

Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.