Effects of Genetics and Environment on Substance Abuse Human Growth and Development 11/30/11 Abstract Previous research has shown direct links between environmental factors and substance use in adolescents, while the link between genetic factors and substance abuse may only be inferred. The current research further investigates the correlation between genetic and environmental factors and substance abuse in adolescents. The results showed overwhelming evidence that genetics can predispose adolescents to substance abuse and illustrated the environmental factors that lead to substance abuse.
Further research should be conducted in both areas of investigation. Genetic and Environmental Factors Influence Substance Abuse in Adolescence As defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition (DSM-IV 2000), substance abuse is a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. This paper will examine the effects of genetic and environmental factors on substance abuse in adolescents. It will investigate whether an addiction problem can be passed on to a child through genetics.
The paper will also examine role of environmental factors such as familial and friend relationships to see what role, if any, they may play in substance abuse. Previous research was conducted on parent drug use, parent personality, and the effect they have on parenting. The participants were involved in a longitudinal study that began in 1975 and at it’s beginning the participants ranged in age from one to ten years of age. The study is focusing on seventy-one, (fifty-one women and twenty-men) of these original participants all of whom now have children.
The participants completed a self-administered questionnaire, which focused on personality, family, peer, demographic, and drug use in depth. They also completed child-rearing questions in regard to their eldest child. Multi-item scales were used for drug use, parent personality, and the effects they have on parenting. The research showed that parent personality and parent drug use had significant effects on most parent-child variables. (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, ; Cohen, 2001, pgs. 139-149). The research conducted on parent drug use, parent personality, and the effects they have n parenting showed that parent drug use and parent personality have an effect on parent-child relationships and parenting (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, ; Cohen, 2001, pgs. 137-151). The research conducted supports my thesis that environmental factors, such as parent-child relationships, have an effect on substance abuse in adolescents. The study suggests that parent drug use and personality may have negative effects on the relationship they have with their child which could lead to their child using substances. Furthermore, if a parent is a drug user it may be a behavior that an adolescent learns and imitates.
Although this study did not focus on the genetic aspects of substance abuse, it can be inferred that of those parents who were drug users their children may also be more genetically susceptible to using drugs, especially if a mother was using drugs during her pregnancy. Research was previously conducted on genetic and environmental risks for adolescent substance abuse to see if it was linked to individual substances or general across substances; the results showed that cross-substance. The experiment was conducted on one 1,347 adolescent twins (645 monozygotic and 702 dizygotic), 429 biological sibling pairs, and 96 adoptive sibling pairs.
In order to assess substance use, the experimenters used the CIDI-SAM (Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Substance Abuse Module) and the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition) and conducted psychiatric interviews. The study found that cross-substance correlation was prevalent among twins and biological siblings. However, the correlation between twins was stronger than that of the biological siblings, suggesting a special twin environmental effect. The experiment also found that the correlation among adopted siblings was small and not very relevant.
These results suggest a genetic link to substance abuse and that environmental factors may not play such a major role in substance abuse. (Young, Rhee, Stallings, Corley, ; Hewitt, 2006, pgs. 603-613). In the research conducted on genetic and environmental risks for adolescent substance abuse to see if it was linked to individual substances or general across substances, the results showed that cross-substance correlation was significantly prevalent among twins and biological siblings but not significantly among adopted siblings (Young, Rhee, Stallings, Corley, ; Hewitt, 2006, pgs. 03-615). This experiment supports my thesis that genetics have an effect on substance abuse in adolescence in that it shows a high correlation between twin pairs and biological sibling pairs. This suggests that there is a genetic factor related to substance abuse in adolescents. However, it simultaneously contradicts my thesis in that the adopted sibling pairs did not show a high correlation, suggesting that environmental factors do not have a strong effect on substance abuse in adolescence.
One of the main things that clients are taught in rehabilitation centers is that in order to recover, they need to change their “people, places, and things. ” The fact that one of the main philosophies promotes a change in environment suggests that there are environmental factors related to substance abuse. People, places, and things are environmental factors referred to as triggers. Triggers are problems and situations that become associated with discomfort. This discomfort then becomes a habitual signal for opting to use drugs to alleviate discomfort. De Leon, G. , 1989, p. 141). Many studies have suggested that parents play a significant role in their child’s choice of peer groups. Studies have repeatedly shown that parents influence many behaviors of adolescents, which in turn predicts the assignment of adolescents to a particular peer group. In this way, parents play a significant yet indirect role in adolescent associations with peer groups. Because of ones parents’ attitudes towards drugs, an individual may choose a peer group that does not foster a drug-free environment.
In addition to the influence of parents, attitudes of peer groups have been found to be predictors of individual adolescent substance abuse: “Some investigators have found that if parents model deviant behavior or fail to maintain close relationships with their teenager, the child is more likely to drift into deviant peer groups and, as a consequence, be more involved in drug use” (Brown, Mounts, Lamborn, ; Steinberg, 1993, p. 469). This is likely to be a contributing factor in an individual’s substance abuse, given the relationships one has with both parents.
Also, the fact that some parents fail to monitor their child’s behaviors, and in some cases encouraging drug use, certainly lead to some individual’s involvement and addiction to drugs (Bogenschneider, Wu, Raffaelli, ; Tsay 1998, p. 1674). In an article by Mike Males, This is Your Father’s Brain on Drugs, he examines the issue of behavior crisis, drug use and risky behavior, not in adolescents but in adults. This article is irrelevant in that society today tends to think of this behavior crisis happening among today’s youth, not among the people who are raising them.
Perhaps society should take a closer look into our society to find where today’s drug culture is stemming from. Perhaps the adolescents who abuse substances learn this behavior from the people who have raised them. Furthermore, it can be inferred that these adults may have genetically predisposed their children to addiction by abusing substances themselves. In his article, Males revealed that people aged 35 to 54 accounted for 370,000 of people treated in hospitals for abusing illegal drugs (Males, 2007). I think that parental drug use is an obvious predisposition and that extreme tumultuous environment is an obvious factor as well.
In some cases, the genetic and environmental links to substance abuse may not be as clear. I have had a personal experience with substance abuse that shows different genetic and environmental effects. In terms of genetics, neither of my parents abuse or have ever abused substances. However, on my mother’s side the family I have an uncle who is a recovering heroin addict, an aunt who is an alcoholic, and a cousin who is a recovering cocaine addict and currently abuses marijuana. One could infer that addiction runs in my family. No one on my father’s side of the family has had any addiction problems.
In terms of my environment, I grew up in a nice home in a nice neighborhood, with loving, caring parents who have a good relationship. I was very defiant from a young age, which in turn made my parents very strict with me at a young age. This same strictness continued as I grew up and it became overbearing. When I was in high school I began to abuse marijuana. The more rules they made, the more I broke them. The more I broke the rules, the more involved they became in every aspect of my life. I could not leave my house without answering one hundred questions about what I was doing, with whom, and for how long.
Studies have shown that “parents who fail to grant increasing decision-making opportunities or to relax power and restrictiveness have adolescents who become extremely peer-oriented at the expense of heeding parental rules…parental closeness discouraged drug use directly and also indirectly through the choice of non-drug-using friends” (Bogenschneider, Wu, Raffaelli, ; Tsay, 1998, p. 1674). Although this was not clear to me at the time, in retrospect I feel that my marijuana use stemmed from me wanting to act out against my parents.
Because of the increasing strictness of my parents, I was pushed further away from them. I began to feel like they did not understand me at all and so I turned to my friends that did. As a result, I began to turn to my friends for support, despite their involvement with drugs. I felt that my parents were stifling my independence and as a way to show my autonomy I acted out against them. Some studies propose that parental over involvement may increase the likelihood of adolescent substance abuse (Volk, Edwards, Lewis, ; Douglas, 1989, p. 267).
The research that I have found can be used to illustrate the correlation between genetic and environmental factors and substance abuse. Although I have found many sources that support my theory, I have yet to find any research that conclusively links a genetic trait to substance abuse. I think that there should be more research conducted on this topic because it would be beneficial for people to know if they may be predisposed to substance abuse. The research conducted on environmental factors does show a direct link between environmental factors and substance abuse.
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