How does a family history of addiction affect us

Karen Khaleghi, PhD, discusses the role of genetics and family history in substance abuse and alcoholism
Family and Parenting Tips | How a family history of addiction can affect us and our children
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How does a family history of addiction affect us

One of the hot topics since I have been in the field of addiction which is many, many years is whether addiction is biologically determined, genetically determined or not, and it really is a chicken and egg conundrum. We know more about the brain and we know more about the body than ever before in history. We're still unable to answer that question definitively. We do know that addiction does run in families. Why does it run in families, we we really can't answer. I come from multiple generations of addiction. My issue was figuring out why does this happen? Why did this destroy my family and what do I need to understand about it? So my path in life was to try and make sense of the chaos and the addiction within my family. I know that that exist and exist generationally. I view it as an issue of learned behavior combined with genetics. So I look at my father who's an alcoholic, who's a very anxious man. He was very anxious and unhappy. He utilized alcohol to deal with his anxiety and to deal with his unhappiness in life, his sense of self-despair. So I saw him self-medicating with the use of alcohol. I back track and say, "Let's look at how that person's hum developed in their early life." Again I go back to the hum and I say - as a child he was always anxious. He was always worried, he was always upset. He didn't have parents who took the time and who understood that it was time to figure out, at a young age, what was bothering him so intensely. So as a youngster, he began using alcohol to deal with his anxiety. So I believe that while it's essential that we continue along that path to see if there is indeed a genetic component that can be identified, it's also important to look at what are the learned behaviors. We need to help to help our children understand that if there's a family history of addiction, that there is a vulnerability, that addiction may be an issue that they need to consider. We don't know whether it's a genetic issue or not and we're working diligently to try and find out what the links are genetically to addiction in brain science and body science. We just don't know.

Karen Khaleghi, PhD, discusses the role of genetics and family history in substance abuse and alcoholism


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Karen Khaleghi, PhD

Co-founder of Creative Care Malibu

Dr. Karen Khaleghi is a pioneer in the field of dual diagnosis, or co-occurring drug and alcohol addiction along with mental health disorders. As one of the co-founders of Creative Care in Malibu and co-author of The Anatomy of Addiction, Dr. Karen speaks to parents and organizations about the formation of addiction, the critical aspects of nature and nurture and the resulting disconnection between emotions and behavior as well as the genesis of addiction and the path to recovery, a process she calls "connecting the dots." 

There are many things that set Dr. Karen Khaleghi apart from others including her individualized treatment approaches and excellent treatment facility Creative Care which is filled with clinical staff comprised of professionals that offer the highest standard of care in the industry. Karen graduated from California Graduate Institute with her Ph.D in 1989 and lives in Los Angeles, CA with her loving husband and children. Dr. Karen Khaleghi has been featured on The Today Show, KCAL 9, Dr. Phil and many others!


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