Essay Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Substance Abuse

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The question of nature vs. nurture has been the focus of many debates, especially within the discipline of psychological sciences. This paper will examine the views that exist regarding the importance of contributions to the risk of addiction, specifically, genetic (nature) vs. environmental (nurture) contributions through a review of the existing literature. The nature-based view is that expression of addiction (phenotype) is based upon genetic predisposition (genotype). Numerous genetic studies on pedigree have been conducted over the years. The majority of the results of these studies indicate that monozygotic twins have higher concordance of addiction than dizygotic twins. More specifically, the more genes shared, the more…show more content…
One of the earliest adoption studies was conducted by Goodwin et al., (1973). Results of the study showed that men whose parents were alcoholics had an increased likelihood of alcoholism, even when adopted and raised by non-alcoholic parents from birth. The results provided strong support for a genetic component to alcohol dependence, as treatment for alcohol problems (9% versus 1%) and meeting criteria for alcoholism (18% versus 5%) were all significantly higher in the adopted-away children of parents with alcohol problems/ dependence (Goodwin et al., 1973). Lastly, Cadoret et al. (1996) conducted one of the first studies that was in fact able to isolate the influence of environmental exposures from potential genetic confounds. In addition to family studies and adoption studies, there have been numerous large-scale twin studies with the aim of examining the role of genetics in susceptibility to addiction. However, the majority of the twin studies conducted have examined the heritability of alcohol abuse and dependence and have not examined the heritable influences on illicit drug use disorders. Past research such as the study by McGue (1998), indicate that the estimates of heritability of alcohol/abuse dependence have ranged from 50%-70%.
Although the collection of findings from several types of genetically informative research designs does provide compelling evidence for the influence of genetics and heritability on the risk for addiction, they do
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