What Causes Addiction and Mental Health Issues – Genetics or Environment?

What Causes Addiction and Mental Health Issues – Genetics or Environment?

What Causes Addiction and Mental Health Issues – Genetics or Environment?

There is a longstanding debate as to whether addiction and mental health issues are caused by genetic factors or by the environment in which we’re raised, our neighborhoods, communities and society at large. Many people are of the mind that they can be caused by both, simultaneously, and that our issues are so interrelated, it can be hard to differentiate and distinguish between the two causes.

Many of us have addiction and mental illness in our families, meaning our parents and/or other family members also suffer from them. While we may have inherited the genetic traits for addiction, depression and other mental health issues, we may also have learned toxic patterns by being exposed to them. Both are possible, and they can both be contributing factors at the same time. We might have been conditioned by our families not to handle our difficult thoughts and emotions in healthy ways. They may have never taught us healthy, constructive coping skills. They may have never helped us to find positive outlets for our pain. They might have exposed us to their own addictive patterns. They may even have been the ones to introduce us to drugs and alcohol for the first time. We might have learned the toxic thought patterns and limiting beliefs that contribute to depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses from our family members. We might have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of our families, the trauma of which can have direct effects on the development of our addictions and mental illnesses.

Our environment can be similarly impactful. We can grow up in dangerous neighborhoods that are themselves frightening and depressing, contributing to our mental illness and causing us to develop addictions as a form of escape. We might have been exposed to addiction in our communities. We might have seen needles on the street, or watched as addicts used right in front of us. We might be pressured by our peers, causing us to experiment with drugs and alcohol when we might not have on our own. We might be bullied at school, causing us tremendous pain and distress and contributing to our worsened self-image and low self-esteem. We can feel the sting of people’s insults and criticism even more painfully when we’re young, before we’ve developed the inner resources to ignore negativity and define our self-perception for ourselves. We can be influenced by our mainstream culture that not only normalizes addiction, it also glamorizes it, while simultaneously disparaging mental illness and ostracizing the mentally ill.

Upon examining our lives and especially our childhoods, many of us find that our addictions and mental health issues had both genetic and environmental contributing factors.

Our specialized treatment options may vary from patient to patient, but they are built on a proven system of evidence-based therapy and recovery options to maximize success and eliminate dependencies during rehabilitation. Call or text (310) 564-2761 today for more information.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.