Addiction: Is It Genetically Inherited Or Not?

What does it mean to be addicted?

Addiction simply means the inability of one to stop using a substance (usually harmful) since the person depends on it to feel okay either physically or mentally. This means that if the person does not get that substance for a while; they feel very uncomfortable. 

It is a long term inability to stop taking or doing something. This does not restrict to when someone is wholly dependent on medicines such as cocaine, heroin and the likes but also behavioral addiction where the person cannot stop participating in activities such as gambling. 

Research has shown that addiction has caused a lot of deaths worldwide. This imposes some form of economic strain because the government has to invest so much in taking care of the victims. For instance the US spends more than 740 billion USD annually to take care of the treatment costs and rehabilitate the patients according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Is addiction genetic?

Addiction can easily be passed down to the next generation. In other words, if a person is addicted to any substance at all it is likely to pass that tendency of addiction to their child. 

Apparently, Research has shown that children are three to four times likely to become alcoholics if their parents have struggled with alcoholism.

The common symptoms or signs of any form of addiction may include:

  1. Uncontrollably seeking for the substance or activity of abuse 
  2. Getting engaged in harmful behaviors 
  3. Hiding and not being able to explain the cause of injuries on their body 
  4. Profound change of behavior 
  5. Ability to take risks to get access to the drug or activity of abuse. 

Any notice of change in behavior of a person may or may not indicate abuse, however, the level may depend solely on what is being addicted to. 

When the substance/ activity is being withdrawn; the victim becomes so irritable and anxious, there is the loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and tremors.

How can addiction be treated?

Treatment may be complicated depending on the substance or the activity. There are various methods which can be used. Methods to treat or manage the addiction may include:  

1. Counselling the victim on the need to stop the substance of abuse as soon as they can and some form of behavioral therapy

2. The victim can as well be put on medications and medical devices to help with the withdrawal symptoms and stop the abuse.

3. The victim can also be managed by treating all related psychological factors such as depression by employing the services of a clinical psychologist.

These methods have been classified into the following:

1. behavioral therapy and counseling

2. medication and drug-based treatment

3. medical devices to treat withdrawal

4. treating related psychological factors, such as depression, ongoing care to reduce the risk of relapse

In conclusion, addiction, to some extent, is genetic but can be managed properly to ensure the victim leads a better life after treatment.


Chief Editor at

MPSGH, MRPharmS, MPhil.

Isaiah Amoo is a practicing community pharmacist in good standing with the Pharmacy Council of Ghana who has meaningful experience in academia and industrial pharmacy. He is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, England, UK and currently pursuing his overseas pharmacy assessment programme (MSc) at Aston University, UK. He had his MPhil degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He has about 5 years’ experience as a community Pharmacist and has also taught in academic institutions like KNUST, Kumasi Technical University, Royal Ann College of Health, and G-Health Consult. He likes to spend time reading medical research articles and loves sharing his knowledge with others.

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