PDF: EasyToRead_WhatIsAddiction_Final_012017.pdf

Addiction can run in families. There are two reasons this happens. The first is some people have mistakes in their genes that make them more likely to get addicted. Genes carry information in your body that makes you who you are and what you look like. When you have mistakes in your genes, you're born this way—there is nothing you can do about it. And these mistakes can be passed on to babies. It's like having a greater chance of getting certain kinds of cancer because one of your parents had it. Unlike some cancers, though, there aren’t tests that can tell you if you carry those defects in your body.  

The second reason is that children see a parent or family members using drugs and think it's okay. Or addiction causes a lot of problems in the house, and children don't get the care or attention they need. Children who don't feel loved have a greater chance of using drugs and becoming addicted. This can be a problem that continues through many generations. It can happen whether the family is rich, poor, or in between.

The good news is that many children whose parents had drug problems don't become addicted when they grow up. The risk is higher, but it doesn't have to happen. And you can protect yourself from the risk by not using drugs at all.