There is not a single gene for addiction or alcoholism. Scientists have identified multiple genes associated with addiction, in general, as well as genes associated with addiction to specific substances. Research shows that genetics has a 40-60% influence on addiction. Yes, there may be a genetic predisposition to substance abuse.
In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) states that “at least half of a person's susceptibility to drug or alcohol addiction may be related to genetic factors. Multiple studies have shown that alcohol and drug abuse, dependence, and addiction are hereditary. Researchers have identified numerous genes, chromosomes and neural circuits in the brain that are believed to increase the risk of addiction. In the brains of those who are genetically predisposed to addiction due to a family history of alcohol or drug use problems, addiction pathways can form more quickly and easily.
By using new scientific methods of genome mapping and sequencing to analyze genetic variations, scientists can gather stronger evidence from the families of people affected by addiction to better understand a person's risk of developing an addiction. Learning more about the genetic, epigenetic, and neurobiological basis of addiction will eventually advance the science of addiction. Thinking of addiction as genetics begins with the understanding that addiction is a recurring chronic brain disorder.