Are We Breeding Addicts?

Our discussion about where non-substance or behavioral addictions should be classified in the DSM or under the addiction title got me thinking. There is evidence that addiction is heritable and that genes play a role. So, with these biological vulnerabilities, how much does our environment play a role? Can we choose our addictions?

HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION: Stacey father is a diagnosed alcoholic and many of her relatives have had problems with drinking. In fact, all four of her grandparents have died from alcohol related illnesses and diseases. One grandparent was even foolish enough to go swimming at night whilst under the influence of alcohol and washed up on the shore the next morning. Thus, she has seen how alcohol can lead to frayed relationships, poor decision-making, and ruined family reunions. Alcohol has made such a scarring impact on her life that since her early childhood she promised herself to never rely on drinking like her father and relatives. Thus, she does not seem to have a problem with alcohol. BUT she is addicted to food. She will stay up late at night bingeing on anything that she can stuff into her mouth. Even when she isn’t hungry, she will
Has Stacey consciously chosen to invest her biological vulnerability to addiction in a behavior different from her father?

And, if we can choose our addictions, are we then capable of creating addicts that were not before biologically susceptible to addiction?

SECOND SCENARIO: Internet addiction
In a study performed in China, Shi Qing-Xin et al. (2005) tested the relationship between and the relationship between addiction and sensation seeking (which adolescents tend to be high in). investigated the characteristics of Internet Addiction Disorder and Sensation Seeking in middle school and high school students. What they discovered is that sex and grade differences in internet addiction disorder were quite clear. Boys and middle school students exhibited characteristics of Internet addiction. Furthermore, the score of Boredom Susceptibility derived from the sensation seeking questionnaire was positively correlated to Internet Addiction.

So, could you be at risk for an addiction? Are you a sensation seeker? Take the Sensation Seeking Questionnaire to discover how high your drive to seek excitement and new stimuli is.

Are we providing children with an environment where they feel bored without constant technological stimuli?
Furthermore, is addiction, either it be with drugs, alcohol, food, internet, gambling, television, etc., becoming an epidemic?

5 thoughts on “Are We Breeding Addicts?

  1. This is wicked interesting Lia! I think that these scenarios are very thought-provoking. I wonder how much her psychology is involved in her food addiction. Whether she believed she was predisposed, and thus willed herself into it. Just a thought.


  2. Good point Jenn. That’s definitely a new angle to look at it. Perhaps Stacey simply read an article about the heritable nature of alcoholism and subconsciously chose to eat her emotions so that she would avoid becoming an alcoholic.


  3. This is an interesting scenario and one that I feel like I’ve heard of before. It makes me wonder how much of this is causation and how much is correlation. I wonder how socially influenced addiction is. I mean for some people they have no intention of trying these drugs, let’s use cigarettes as an example. But they soon become addicted, is it a personal or social compulsion or both?


  4. This post brings up some really good points! I wonder how technology is effecting addiction… is it just providing new avenues for addiction or is constant stimulation contributing to the rates of addiction.


  5. I think it’s also possible that Stacey (and people with other addictions like hers) use eating (or any other addiction, probably) as a coping mechanism- her family situation seemed particularly bad, so maybe becoming consumed by an addictive behavior was a result of that.


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