Addiction is complex and usually can’t be attributed to any one factor in a given individual.  Although outward forces such as trauma and being exposed to substance abuse are known to increase the risk of addiction, it seems genetics also plays a significant role.  Now researchers are in the process of developing a test that can determine an individual’s susceptibility to opioid addiction, which may lead to the ability to determine the genetic risk of addiction overall in the future.  One recent study is looking at emergency room patients, in particular, to monitor their opioid use after being prescribed opioids for emergency pain relief. These patients will be genetically tested to look for markers of opioid addiction vulnerability.

The immediate use of genetic testing for addiction potential is to help inform doctors about the safety of prescribing opioid pain relievers.  Opioids are still commonly used to treat pain for individuals after surgery or serious injury, despite some research indicating that non-opioid pain relievers provide more effective relief.  The tendency of doctors to prescribe opioids so liberally has contributed to what is now being called the opioid crisis in America. Patients who begin using opioid pain relievers for legitimate pain can become addicted and go on to purchase painkillers on the street, or even escalate their use to stronger opioids such as heroin.  

Genetic testing is still considered imprecise, and because there are so many combining factors that culminate in addiction, it is still impossible to say whether any individual will definitely become addicted, or definitely avoid addiction over their lifetime.  This is exciting research, however, and can help create better care for people with and without addictions alike. In the meantime, all addictive substances should be approached with extreme caution, and anyone experiencing an addiction should seek professional help from an addiction recovery treatment center. 

If you or someone you love has developed an addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.