You can blame your parents for your unruly hair, your poor table manners and even for some strange holiday memories, but are your parents responsible for your drug addiction? About 10 percent of everyone who tries drugs become addicted to them. Researchers continue to investigate why these individuals become addicted when the vast majority of people can use drugs for therapeutic or recreational reasons without fear of becoming addicted.

Studies Show:

Scientists think a combination three things can make you more prone to developing an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or other addictive behaviors; these three things are:

  • Heredity
  • Opportunity
  • Upbringing


Researchers believe genetics account for about 50 percent of a person’s risk for developing an addiction at some point in life. There is no single “addiction gene” that makes someone become addicted – researchers think a specific interaction between a particular set of genes makes the person more vulnerable to addiction.


Humans have been genetically predisposed to addiction since the beginning of time. In the earliest days, people struggled with addiction to wine, opium, and other natural psychoactive substances. The Chinese battled widespread opium addiction that nearly brought China to bankruptcy. This addiction is not confined to people with Chinese ancestry – many countries banned the import of opium because it caused widespread addiction. Those exposed to opium quickly became addicted; everyone else expressed the addiction gene through alcohol consumption or other behaviors.

Humans of all races continue to create addictive substances, including the multiracial people in the United States. During the American Civil War, soldiers became addicted to the morphine they received to treat injuries sustained on the battlefield. The United States has survived two epidemics of heroin addiction, the first occurring after WWI and the second happening during the Vietnam War. Not surprisingly, people often refer to addiction as “soldier’s disease.”

RX Drug Addiction

Today, Americans of all races and genetic backgrounds are hooked on prescription painkillers. In 2010, about 1.9 million Americans were addicted to prescription painkillers; by comparison, only 359,000 people were addicted to heroin that year. This could be because pharmaceutical companies flood the market with painkillers. Even though Americans represent only 5 percent of global population, people in the United States consume 80 percent of the world’s opioid supply.

The fact these drugs are prescribed by doctors does not make them safer. You’ll notice in our Drug Danger Scale that many of the most dangerous ratings are reserved for prescriptions, especially painkillers.


What makes someone more prone to become addicted than another individual? Upbringing does influence the development of addiction. Children born in households with a lax attitude towards drugs and alcohol consumption are more likely to abuse drugs.

Adults frequently use drugs or alcohol as self-medication or a way to reduce stress. A child learns how to deal with pressure by watching his mother or father – if the parents get tanked five nights out of seven, chances are the kid will too. Other environmental factors outside influence the development of addiction, including peer pressure, abuse, and stress.

Inheritance and Drug Addiction

You might inherit many wonderful qualities from your parents, including a suave personality, good looks and an impeccable sense of style. But you might also become heir to an addiction that can leave you with an unpleasant disposition, scary appearance and an unpleasant demeanor that cause you to be the source of those strange memories at family gatherings.