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The Thirteenth StepAddiction in the Age of Brain Science$
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Markus Heilig

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172363

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172363.001.0001

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Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons

(p.135) 13 Fathers and Sons
The Thirteenth Step

Markus Heilig

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes the extent to which addictive disorders are heritable. It is a fact that alcoholism and other addictions run in families. This does not, on its own, prove that there is a substantial genetic component to the risk for developing these disorders. It could well be that the risk, for the most part at least, instead comes from growing up in a family affected by addictive disorders. Other shared environmental factors, outside the family, could also contribute. Addiction is after all strongly associated with growing up and living in poverty, being exposed to violence, or having a low level of education. Each or all of these factors could theoretically contribute to addiction risk. Whether most of the risk comes from genes, the shared environmental factors, or a combination of both is an empirical question.

Keywords:   addiction, addictive disorders, families, alcoholism, substance use, genes, environmental factors

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