man alone drinkingThere are two ways that a person may be susceptible to addiction:

  1. via biological predisposition
  2. through learned behavior

Understanding both is important for those concerned that they are vulnerable to addictive behavior.

What Does Biological Predisposition Mean?

Biological predisposition refers to a person’s risk of becoming addicted due to family history. That may mean that, for example, a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle may have had problems with addiction.

Knowing that there is a genetic link to addiction in one’s family can be very helpful. It can explain behavior that occurred in the past and allows you to make more informed decisions.

Note, though, that just because you may have a biological predisposition to addiction does not mean you are doomed to become an addict. It does mean, however, that you need to be careful and aware when exposed to addictive substances.

How Does Learned Behavior Relate to Addiction?

Learned behavior comes into play when someone becomes an addict due to external influence or what is happening around them.

As an example, let’s say you’re a student attending a party in college. You see everyone in the room drinking excessively. Everybody seems to be having fun and enjoying themselves. Eventually, you get handed a cup and begin drinking as well.

The message of the situation is clear:

  • Drinking is enjoyable
  • Being part of the party makes you feel accepted

Over time, though, you may find you drink more and more, socially and otherwise. When left unaddressed, the problem may grow, consuming your time and relationships and having a negative impact on your life overall,

bartender with back turned

A Powerful Combination

It is important to know that biological predisposition and learned behavior can have a very powerful influence on one’s decision-making too.

For instance, people often blame themselves for becoming addicts. They carry a lot of shame that can make their addiction worse and cause them to delay treatment longer than they should. These people may even feel that there is no hope left for them or they despair about how they wound up in this situation in the first place.

Yet, addiction is much more complicated that most realize. For some, addiction can involve not just one or the other but a combination of both biological predisposition and learned behavior. This means there are significant forces that influencing their decisions all the time pertaining their addiction whether they realize it or not.

Being Aware of the Influence

By knowing the signs, people who are at risk of addiction can make better life choices. They should take measures be aware of their family history and note known members who struggle with substance abuse or other addictive activities.

It is also important to be conscious of the subtle social signs and cues that exist in your community regarding substance use. These include messages that they are receiving from other people and society at large, such as:

  • Everyone else is drinking so you should too
  • Ads or pop-ups with beautiful social, people drinking and having fun
  • Pharmaceutical drug use is better than street drugs

Whether we realize it or not, there are many influences at work when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

How to Make Better Choices

For people who want to make better choices and either want to avoid addiction or are in recovery, there are options.

For example:

  • Surrounding yourself with people who support sobriety vs. those who do not
  • Maintain an active lifestyle through good nutrition and physical exercise
  • Eliminate factors that cause stress
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques
  • Engage in hobbies that are fulfilling and will last a lifetime

There is no one solution for addressing addiction. It takes a combination of approaches. Being aware of any genetic predisposition is helpful, as is being cognizant of societal and peer influence.

Finally, when you make efforts to live a healthy, well-balanced life, you can ensure that addiction does not take over your life. If you’re ready to take the next step towards sobriety, please look over my specialty page on addiction treatment and contact me soon. I can help you navigate the roadblocks and support your journey to a more fulfilled life.