Breaking The Cycle of Family Addiction

Breaking The Cycle of Family Addiction

Everyone enjoys inheriting Grandpa’s sense of humor or Mom’s musical talent. But unfortunately, there are some other things we can inherit that are less desirable.

One of the most common is a tendency toward addiction. While anyone can become addicted, regardless of family history, there is strong scientific backing for the notion that people can have a predisposition to addiction, and that this predisposition can be inherited from one’s parents–and passed on to one’s children.

If you are the child or grandchild of someone with an addiction problem, this doesn’t automatically doom you to a life battling substance abuse or gambling. Addicts undergoing treatment at Sandy’s Place, for example, do not all receive the same types of therapy. Their individual circumstances are taken into consideration as a treatment plan is developed. Those with a genetic predisposition will need to develop their understanding of that particular factor, just as those without that tendency.

Your genetic background does create circumstances that you should manage in order to reduce the likelihood of addiction in your life. Understanding the implications of this background involves short-circuiting the triggers that can activate that family tendency.

Watching Vulnerable Family Members

Let’s look to those around us before we look at ourselves. For parents, one of the most frightening things that can come into their lives is an alcohol or drug problem in one of their children. Social interaction can lead to a downward spiral into addiction for kids who aren’t emotionally prepared to handle the situation.

The first thing is to keep alcohol and tobacco out of the home and to ensure that prescription medications are used correctly. The next thing is to make sure that kids are carefully watched for signs of addiction.

This process can be very challenging because our fear is so great that we are unwilling to acknowledge the legitimacy of our concerns. We try to make excuses or rationalize altered behavior as a phase or simple teenage misbehavior, but when the facts establish that there is a substance problem, we must take action.


Finding Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Life is full of stressful situations, and for those with a genetic predisposition to addiction, it can be very easy to let that stress push them toward the use of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication as a temporary coping mechanism that becomes permanent.

Avoid the temptation of a quick fix. Unwinding after work with a few beers is certainly faster than spending an hour walking, but over the long term, exercise is far preferable. This is true whether you ever become an alcoholic or not, because exercise creates positive physical effects as opposed to the negative ones from drinking.

Positive social interaction, yoga, spiritual pursuits, reading, and many other activities can help us to decompress from difficult situations without letting substance abuse invade our lives disguised as stress relief.

Forget “Social” Use

Just as dangerous as stress-coping substance abuse is social use. Again, a few beers with friends seem harmless, but when we begin to tie our social interaction directly to use of an addictive substance, we can hide the separation between the two and end up thinking one can’t happen without the other. In time, the substance abuse escalates to an unmanageable level.

Whether it’s a legal or illegal substance, gambling, or even food, its use as a form of recreation is different when you are from a family of addicts. Consequently, you need to choose total avoidance of such consumption in order to keep from triggering your genetic tendency.

When you have a family history of addiction, you shouldn’t view that as a ball and chain that you’ll carry your whole life. Instead, you can view it as a red flag that will keep you from doing something destructive in your life. Careful management of your activities can keep the problem from ever emerging in your life and the lives of your family members.

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