30 million people in the US are current legal drug users. There is also a strong relationship between substance abuse disorder and mental illness. If you are one of the millions of people in the US who suffer from substance abuse disorder and mental illness, you know how difficult it is to overcome the disease.
Genetic testing for mental health may be one way to guide your treatment choices. Because these conditions are often inherited, genetic testing can help understand what treatments might work best for you. Read on to learn more.
Predisposition to Addiction
Even though you may be predisposed to addiction, it doesn’t guarantee that you will experience a substance abuse disorder (SUD). Living in a protective environment could keep you from becoming addicted. If you experience things like trauma, however, and you have a genetic predisposition to addiction, then you may experience SUD.
This is referred to as gene-by-environment, which means that it’s not just a single gene that determines your experiences. Rather, it’s a combination of multiple different genes. In this case, it’s a combination of genes predisposing you to addiction and genes that dictate how you handle stress, such as trauma.
Early childhood trauma, PTSD, and other extremely stressful situations can essentially “flip the switch” for addiction.
Genes Can Predict Severity of Addiction
Not only can your genes predict whether you experience substance abuse disorder, they can also predict the severity of your addiction. Research has shown that there are hundreds of different locations on your genes that impact substance use.
These locations and variants could dictate how serious your addiction is and whether you are able to successfully overcome your addiction. Genetic testing can help you understand how your addiction may behave.
Using Genetic Testing to Inform Treatment
Genetic testing can teach you more about your predisposition to genetics and the severity of your addiction. Once this information is clear, doctors and treatment specialists can determine how to treat you.
When studying alcohol addiction, genetic testing can look for the presence of a gene called the μ-Opioid Receptor which is linked to a greater risk of addiction and relapse. If this gene is present, a drug called Naltrexone could be prescribed. This drug works to curb alcohol cravings and relapse.
Genetic tests can also reveal any co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD. SUD can put you at risk of developing mental illness and those with mental health issues are more susceptible to relapse. When you have co-occurring disorders, genetic testing is most effective, as it can inform doctors on which drug therapies may be effective to treat both mental illness and SUD.
Treating Your Addictions
If genetic testing is offered by your medical provider, take advantage of this to help inform your addiction treatment. Use this information in conjunction with other therapies to effectively treat your addictions.
If you are ready to treat your addiction, contact us today. We have a wide range of programs available, from inpatient to outpatient programs.