Does alcoholism or drug addiction run in your family?



If so, has this impacted you or your loved one’s decision-making when it comes to using a substance?


Not in mine thankfully. But it does (undiagnosed!) in my husband’s. Just this Christmas holidays they had to sit down with their dad to ask him to talk about his excessive drinking and belligerence.

Right now my husband is trying to cut down his drinking. While we were on holiday he was very controlled / didn’t need to think about it because we were staying with my family who take the lead on moderation and regular sleeping / eating habits. Now that we are back in the city he is staying up late and drinking to fall asleep. If he opens a bottle he finishes it. His whole body smells differently when he has alcohol in his system. Not boozey, like I can smell a chemical reaction in his skin. He loves it and he can’t stop once he starts.

Which feels like it puts pressure on me to drink so he won’t finish the whole bottle. BUT this behavior makes me want to drink less! I prefer to have a nice glass of wine with a beautiful meal out in a great atmosphere. Not for the sake of it.

OR I could stay up later to keep him company and then maybe he would feel less like the need to drink.

BUT I’m trying to look after myself. And I want to just tell him how to be but I know that is not the way to get through to him.

Oh wow. I had a lot to say on this subject! Phew.


@polly drinking at bed time is super tough, especially when you share a sleep schedule with your loved one. Because then their bad habits can really start to affect you almost just as much! It’s tough when you’re exhausted but your loved one just isn’t there yet, and you feel this push and pull between wanted to sleep so badly but also wanting to comfort your loved one. Like we all know, addiction is the opposite of connection, so maybe staying up with him an extra 20 minutes and finding an interesting show to watch/small activity to do would help him feel less like he needs to drink.

As for my family, alcoholism definitely runs in it. Both sides of my grandparents were heavy drinkers, and my mom’s half-brother died of cirrhosis caused from alcoholism. My dad also struggled with drinking and my mom currently does (wow, even just saying all this reminds me how bad it is!) It’s definitely made me more cautious of the way I use alcohol. I tend to just reserve it for special occasions, such as a glass of wine on my friend’s birthdays. Buying my own alcohol to keep in my apartment makes me uncomfortable because I don’t like the thought of drinking alone (due to my family history), so I’ll tend to only do this if I know I am expecting guests at my apartment. During a substance use disorder lecture in class last year, my professor was talking about how he has never been drunk before and chooses not to drink, just because of his family history! He says it’s not worth it to him to use alcohol if it’s had a bad rep in his family, just because there are so many potential costs that can come with it!


<3 I also read somewhere that couples that go to bed at the same time are more likely to stay together :flushed: definitely weighs on my mind.

They say substances affect people differently. I look forward to a day when we can get tested for these types of things. It would be so interesting and useful!


@ashleykm3 yes it does. However, I’m not 100% convinced that addiction is inherited. I toggle between having a genetic predisposition to addiction and the atmosphere one has been raised in as far as a tendency to use substances.


Agreed. A lot more goes into it:


I’m the first alcoholic in my family. I asked both parents to go back as far as they could remember, and lucky for me, I’m the first.


@p_dewey thanks for pointing this out! You’re definitely right to not be convinced addiction is fully inherited— research has shown it’s actually a mix of genetics and environment, just like what @katiewas saying!

Several studies have actually found a potentially stronger heritability for illicit drug use than for alcohol. But this familial link could be a result of genetic factors, environmental factors (sharing the same living environment as your family), or both! We still don’t quite know yet. :slight_smile:

Regardless, it might still be useful to know your family history to help inform us on future decisions!


Such an interesting question @ashleykm3. Sometimes it’s hard to trace my family history - both my mom and my grandma (on my dad’s side) were adopted. What we do know is that mental illness runs in our family, on both sides (both nature and nurture), so perhaps that plays into my dad’s substance use?! I’ve had several conversations recently with my husband about our own alcohol use - I want to make sure that we are mindful of how/when/why/quantity we use!


Yes, it does run in my family. And it made me more likely to cut someone some slack when he told me that he was an addict when we first met on a dating site. (Kudos to him for admitting it early!)

Now, the addiction/substance usage has resurfaced, or I’m just becoming aware of it. I’m realizing I really have no idea how to deal with it, but THANK GOD for the internet. Lots of useful information from helpful people.


In my family my mom has 5 sisters, 3 of them are addicts and 3 are not. Subsequently there father was and there mother was not. Now as far as the cousins go. All cousins born to addicts are either addicts, or recovering addicts. It is very interesting to me that the cousins who did not have parents who were alcoholic or addicts have not had an issue with this problem. I will tell you what though my environment was definately chaotic as a child of an addict and alcoholic. It truely made me despise drugs and alcohol at a young age and through my teens. I always swore I would never be like that. Unfortunately I was wrong about that. That professor was very smart not to experiment or drink.


Welcome here @CharlieHorse. Sorry to hear that your boyfriend has resumed his substance use! It can feel super overwhelming. Wondering if this post or this one might be useful as you figure out how to deal with next steps.


Thanks so much for sharing @Kimmie how are you doing now?


In my husband’s family, yes. Many of them are functioning alcoholics. It’s tough because since alcohol is so accepted and because they’re still able to function in everyday life, they don’t see it as an issue. And they had the thought process of - well since I can control my drinking (even though they really can’t), then he should be able to control his drug use.

What’s interesting is that it was his family’s alcohol use that was a tipping point for my husband. A drunk experience with family made him no longer want to drink anymore. However, this did not have an effect on his opioid use - at least not that I know of. Alcohol has been easier for him, but opioids are his real demon.