While there is no sole cause of substance abuse, it is well-documented that some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. If you've already fought head-to-head with all-consuming addiction – or have a mother, brother or uncle who has – you may be concerned about how your past, and your genetic makeup, will affect your kids.
Pernilla Burke, a self-proclaimed "parent in recovery," shared this fear in a blog post for Intervene, an online forum for parents of teens with substance abuse issues that is sponsored by DrugFree.org. As a recovering alcoholic herself, Burke says she worries about the genetic legacy she has passed on to her daughters, and how she can prevent them from turning to drugs and alcohol when she herself could not resist them.
"I wonder, with everything I know and everything I've learned, will I be able to save them from the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse? I wonder about the :gene" and the fact that I know there are many in both my family and my husbands' that have it," she writes.
By being honest with her teens about her past experiences with alcohol abuse, Burke expressed the hope that they could learn from her mistakes, or at least, if they did develop similar addiction, seek help when they needed it.
Though family history does factor into addiction, it doesn't entirely dictate whether your son or daughter will develop a drug or alcohol problem. However, if you know that your children are at greater risk because of a genetic disposition, it's important to take action if you see the telltale signs of addiction.
But, even if you've had your own experience with addiction, you may be unsure how to approach this issue with your child. In that case, our professional interventionists can help. We offer youth intervention services specifically to help teenagers overcome their addictions and regain control of their futures.