Skip to main content Skip to bottom nav

Is Alcohol/Drug Abuse genetic or environmental? Are some people just predisposed to Alcoholism or Drug Abuse or is the Abuse a coping mechanism as a result of childhood trauma?

8 Answers
Last Updated: 09/04/2017 at 9:22am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Tara Davis, Doctorate in Counselling Psychology


I have worked successfully with a wide range of difficulties. Nothing is more important than developing a warm, compassionate relationship with someone you can trust

Top Rated Answers
February 28th, 2015 4:42am
Which has a stronger effect on us: genes or environment? Which came first: the chicken or the egg? There is no concrete answer. Genetics and environment are dependent upon each other and simultaneously impact human behavior; without the other, they would not exist. However, while genes provide the bases of our behavior, without certain environmental impacts, these predispositions will remain untouched. Substance Abuse is a multidimensional phenomenon where personality traits, individual, and social influences interact with neurobiology, creating unique responses and manifestations in each individual person. The important commonality is that substances are generally used to distract, numb, eliminate or alter emotions and thoughts in the present moment, regardless of the origin. It is important to understand an individual's risk factors that can predispose one to abusing drugs/alcohol, which includes family history, past traumas, temperament, attitudes/beliefs, current stressors, culture etc. in order to understand what an individual is going through, and plan appropriate treatment. However, the I believe it is important to focus on and explore protective factors that can buffer against development of substance abuse even with genetic and environmental risk factors.
April 5th, 2015 5:56pm
Environment vs genetics is a difficult questions because there is no clear right or wrong answer. With that, there are some genetic dispositions to things, but also the environment in which one grows up in has a large role as well. I personally was raised by addicts, and had an abusive childhood environment. In my case, I fought against the negativity in my life and refused to be like that. It does take a lot of will power as well to fight for positive changes, and doing what one can to make the best of a situation if you're unable to remove yourself from it.
May 12th, 2015 9:47am
from personal experience i would say it is a coping mechanism as many ppl are born to drug / alcohol abusers and turn out fine, i could be wrong but in my opinion i was a drug/ alchohol abuser as a copiong mechanism for dealing with childhood trauma i like this theory as well as it doesn't give up hope , if you tell someone they are inherently a drug abuser then they have no hope becaue thier parents were drug abusers so that means they must be addicts, where as if ppl know it's a coping strategy then that can be changed.
June 15th, 2015 2:20pm
It can be a genetic. Certain races if people where alcohol has not been part of their culture alcoholism affects a far higher percentage of people. Australian Aboriginal people would be 1 example here. It may start out as a copping mechanism but for the alcoholic it come down to a chemical imbalance in the brain. The alcohol makes the person feel happy as never before. But as time goes on it takes more and more alcohol to reach this feeling of euphoria.
November 25th, 2015 6:18pm
Some people are more likely to be predisposed to become addicted to a substance than others. It is more likely that people with a family member that abuses will be more likely to abuse. It could have nothing to do with childhood trauma. Now, using drugs to numb yourself to forget about a childhood trauma is a coping mechanism that some people use. If this is the case for you, we should try to talk about what happened and get you referred to someone who can help you deal with this trauma. Taking about what happened is the first step to getting a handle on drug addiction caused by childhood trauma.
July 5th, 2016 7:42pm
I believe it's an adapted trait, one we may have witnessed ourselves from one hand to the next, Its an unfortunate adaptability, but it does happen. It's much similar to selective traits, nothing genetic about it, but, if our parents were alcoholics, the impression may run off on us as well. Environmental...or economy? Money is what makes this world go round, and hey, these liquor stores aren't helping with the poison known as alcoholism, but it sure is putting money away to the government. Bottom line, yes, there are many major influences, but in the end, it really depends on the person themselves,
September 12th, 2016 1:21pm
Nobody is predisposed to alcoholism or drug abuse but some people do have personality traits that could lead to this situation given bad influences and moments of weakness. Any kind of substance abuse can be perceived as a coping mechanism but it often just makes the situation worse. Trying to run away from problems instead of facing them by talking to family or a professional is never the right way to resolve them. The main issue is that this seems like the easy option but in the long run this is by far the hardest because you never learn to cope and move past the trauma, talking about it, understanding it and the truths involved is more painful initially but it will resolve the issues and help you move forwards.
September 4th, 2017 9:22am
People can be genetically predisposed to addictions, but more often drug and/or alcohol abuse is a coping mechanism for other issues in their lives, such as a bad environment or an undiagnosed mental illness.