The Gene

Today I had a psych exam for a potential job. This is the last step in a very long process. All went well, but there is one sentence I keep coming back to… “you should be careful with alcohol especially since now they’ve discovered a gene.” The psychologist didn’t go any further into detail and he didn’t have to. He was offering his professional opinion and I withheld my personal opinion about “The Gene.”

I don’t like The Gene. In fact, I hate The Gene. I hate The Gene because I believe that The Gene is a lie and an excuse for people to blame external forces for an internal problem. Sound contradictory? Take a look at what’s going on…people are blaming something abstract to alleviate personal responsibility, a disease, for something that holds people accountable, personal choice. When you have to admit that you are the one choosing to acquire drugs and you are the one choosing to take it you only have yourself to blame and that can be scary. Yes, I am aware that real chemical changes happen in the brain that further the desire for drugs/alcohol, but that does not make it a disease. A disease is something that one can not control whether or nor they acquire it. Cancer is a disease….not a byproduct of someone choosing something that will take over their body.

There are many reasons an addict will continue to use. I believe most of it is emotionally driven as the whole point of using is to relieve yourself from feeling bad. If it felt bad to use people wouldn’t do it. It helps people temporarily escape reality. That’s a big temptation. If you found something that pushed “pause” on all negativity in your life, wouldn’t you keep going back to it? Keep pushing pause for as long as possible?

Families have patterns. Why does no one call domestic abuse a disease? That is something a family can struggle with for generations until someone stops the cycle. Why does the family struggle for so long? Because it’s what they grew up with. It’s their method of problem solving and showing frustration. Does that make it right? No. Does that make it a disease? Absolutely not. The abuser is held accountable for their choices despite the fact that their father or mother may have been the one to teach them that abuse is acceptable. No one tells the children “daddy just has a disease.”

Yes, ACOAs are more prone to addiction as it is what they were raised around. It’s the coping method they know and understand. As much as I would love to have an easy out for my dad, addiction is not a disease. It’s a byproduct of your choices.

*This is entirely my opinion and not a scientific/medical statement.*