For years the addiction field has said that addictions were caused by genetics. If your father is an addict then you have the gene for it and you will become an addict.

We now know that the gene is passed on, but it can be turned off if the child has a good and supportive, nurturing family system. The importance of “good enough” parenting makes a big difference in the development of one’s brain.

Dr. Mate states that addictions are “compulsive repetition of behaviors that give pleasure and relief that create long term problems with negative consequences.” Ultimately, these behaviors are to soothe the effects of childhood trauma. Dr. Mate’s proposal of looking at addictions through the lens of trauma is an important step in helping people with addictions heal.

If a child is neglected and abused — physically, emotionally, and/or sexually — it impacts the child’s brain development, and sets up the circuits to possibly become an addict. The brain doesn’t develop in a way where the child learns healthy ways to self-soothe. Therefore, it will be easier to turn to something outside of oneself (alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, internet watching, chocolate, etc.) to soothe later in life because the brain has been wired that way. Dr. Mate stated that having supportive and nurturing people in one’s life is essential to develop the brain in a healthy way.

– Barb Maiberger

Read More: Link Between Childhood Trauma and Addiction

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