It’s common for children who grew up in a family with addiction to go on to develop an addiction of their own. Research indicates that parents who abuse alcohol or who have an addiction increase the odds of their children abusing alcohol later in life. Also, studies also reveal that children whose parents were alcoholics are four times more at risk for abusing alcohol versus children of non-alcoholics. This article will explore generational trends for alcohol and drug addictions.

Addiction develops in someone due to two main factors: genetics and poor coping tools. When someone’s life begins to feel more and more unmanageable, he or she may turn to alcohol or drugs. And when a person relies upon substances again and again to feel better, an addiction can easily develop. However, another factor in the development of an addiction is genes. When someone has addiction in their family history, he or she may be genetically predisposed to develop an addiction.

While studies do support the fact that both genetics and poor coping tools play a significant role in addiction, it’s still unclear whether the conditioning of a child (seeing a parent drink or use drugs as well as seeing other unhealthy behaviors) plays a role in the development of an addiction. So far, research in this area has been inconclusive.

Nonetheless, conditioning may also play a role. For instance, relationship patterns are often passed down from one generation to the next, those with poor boundaries never learned how to have healthy boundaries in the first place. It’s common for those in families with addiction to learn unhealthy and co-dependent relationship patterns. Essentially, co-dependent relationships will commonly include blurry or nonexistent lines between the two involved in that relationship.

Of course, relationship patterns by themselves are not going to play a role in the development of addiction in future generations. However, it’s the underlying issues that create those relationship patterns in the first place. In other words, there’s a reason why those who experience addiction also experience co-dependency. The underlying issues of powerlessness, helplessness, and enabling are typical in those who develop addiction.

Of course, social trends will also play a role in whether someone develops an addiction. For instance, if someone born in a family of addiction adopts the emphasis on health and well being, which is a social trend that exists now, it’s possible that he or she may avoid the risks of addiction, perhaps even if there were a genetic predisposition. Yet, other factors such as trauma, abuse, and mental illness can contribute to addiction, even if a social trend were strong.

If you were raised in a family of addiction and you are using drugs or alcohol currently, contact a mental health provider for assistance. Doing so may prevent an addiction from developing or end the cycle of addiction if it’s already started.

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