It is not uncommon to hear about individuals being fearful of taking pain medication in the emergency room because their parent had a substance use disorder. Research and studies have shown that genetics and family history are the highest risk factors for substance use disorder. Additionally, some genes may make it more difficult for an individual to quit once they have started using. While an individual cannot change his or her genetic background, it is possible to take steps to safeguard one’s health if alcohol abuse or substance abuse runs in your family.

Research Your Family History

Family heritage and genetic testing are becoming more and more common these days, primarily as a way to learn the specifics of your cultural background. It is just as essential to inquire about your family history to find out if your family has had a long history of substance or alcohol abuse. Your parents, children and siblings carry the highest risks for inheriting a substance or alcohol disorder from each other.

Some individuals, particularly older generations, may be reluctant to share their experience with substance use due to the stigma associated with the topic of substance use disorders. Be honest with your relatives and tell them that you are gathering this information to safeguard your health.

Notifying Your Healthcare Providers About Your Family History

Whether you are in the emergency room for a broken foot or have an appointment with your primary care physician for an annual screening exam, be honest about your family history in regards to alcohol and substance abuse. Your healthcare provider should be aware of any high-risk addiction that runs in your family in case you are in need of pain medication, as there are many alternatives to opioids. There may be some circumstances in which opioids might be necessary, such as for surgery, but your physician can consult with a pain and/or addiction specialist to manage these painkillers with extreme caution.

Sharing Your Genetic History

Educating your children about substance abuse and sharing with them about your personal history is an essential step in parenting. Your pediatrician may offer helpful recommendations on how you can communicate this subject with your child, as it is essential to keep an open dialogue about these topics.

If you’re concerned about the way a family history of substance use is impacting your health, Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program is here to help. Reach out to us today.

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