What if You Knew Before? DNA Tests Can Predict Potential Addiction | Harbor Village - Harbor Village

What if You Knew Before? DNA Tests Can Predict Potential Addiction

DNA testing isn’t completely a new concept, but doctors and physicians are starting to use DNA to predict addiction. This is huge! We all know (or at least, we should) genuine substance use disorders (not to be confused with substance abuse- although this is a precursor to the disease) stem from environmental factors and DNA. Parents who suffered from addiction will likely pass on the genetic traits with the potential to manifest the disorder.

This does not mean those with DNA predisposed to addiction will necessarily become addicted.

In fact, that’s the goal of genetic testing; it is a means of prevention. Instead of waiting for the the predisposition of addiction to manifest, why not test for it? This allows both test-ees and their doctors to be aware of prescribed medications. For instance, someone with a predisposition to addiction would opt to find alternatives for opiate based painkillers, xanax, adderall, and other commonly abused drugs.

In another scenario, test-ees may opt to take these medications with the understanding of the potential for danger. It’s what you do with the information once you have it that is truly valuable. It is not enough to know you are more likely to develop a substance use disorder, you must take wakeful- mindful- actions to ensure you do not corner yourself in potentially harmful environments, which may pose minimal threats to those without a genetic inclination for addiction.

But hey, all of you out there who don’t have a genetic predisposition, you’re not out of the hothouse! Environmental stimuli plays an instrumental role in the development of substance abuse and addiction. Remaining mindful of the potential dangers of drug and alcohol use is smart and essential for both your psychological and physical health.

Drinking responsibly is a wonderful example of enjoying a potentially addictive substance, without going over the edge. Should you recognize you’re beginning to problem drink (or when there are difficulties in your life) you must acknowledge what is happening and cease the behavior immediately!

I have a genetic disposition for addiction- and I think I’ve always known this subconsciously. Although I have never personally experimented with drugs, I become intensely obsessed with whatever I am engaged in; whether that is a video game, yearning to learn everything about one topic or subject I’m currently studying, working late, or newly acquired hobbies- I must do everything to excess.

 

And that’s a problem.

It is one I manage everyday.

 

About eight months ago or so, I began drinking more often than I ever have before- mostly socially and in anticipation of trying new types and flavors of alcohol. My “simple” experimentation lead me to problem drink in the face of external and internal conflict. This behavior persisted for about a month.

I was aware of what was happening- (after all, it is my job to write about this!) but it wasn’t until I went into my boyfriend’s kitchen after a fight and downed four consecutive shots of Fireball and half a bottle of wine that I knew I had to stop.

 

I am very lucky to say I did not have a problem stopping once I addressed my behavior honestly with myself.

Unfortunately, many aren’t that lucky.

 

It’s important to get tested to understand where your weaknesses may be. They do not reflect your willpower, or morality, but simply a double helix running around your body.

Although I have never been tested, I know enough about my family’s history to know I probably have the genes. It is now my responsibility to govern myself carefully as to not retrace the steps of my lineage. This doesn’t mean I can’t have a drink or two when out with friends, but I am ever mindful when I do.

Here’s an important point which is overlooked too readily: it’s not always the amount of alcohol (or drugs) you consume that’s the most telling red flag, it’s the emotional state of it– the reason behind the consumption. If you can identify a behavioral pattern of use when you’re upset, or can’t sleep, or when you’re angry, or what have you- that’s when you should start paying attention.

Be open and honest with yourself and come up with alternatives to express stress and deal with potentially detrimental emotions. I turned to crafting and oil blending for stress relief, and I anoint myself with lavender oil before I go to bed (I even put it in my hair with coconut oil) to help me fall asleep.

There are options out there, you just have to prepare yourself to examine your behavior honestly, and take action when you know it may be going too far.

 

Take the pledge with me for a better tomorrow. We can help you find coping mechanisms. Comment below with your difficulties!

 

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