Is Your Addiction Your Parents’ Fault?

Alta Mira's Outpatient Services

Alta Mira’s Outpatient Services

A new study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that a parent’s struggle with an addiction might be connected to the depression experienced by their children in adulthood. Several studies, in fact, have found evidence to support this theory – both research done clinically and population-based studies as well.

But does the effect of a parent’s addiction stop there? Since depression and substance abuse are often connected, and genetics, too, can play a part in the development of addiction, are your parent’s addiction issues the reason why you have a problem with drugs and alcohol?

Biology of Addiction

Biology, or genetics, can certainly play a part in the development of addiction. The closer the relative who struggled with either drug or alcohol dependence – a parent or a sibling – the more likely it is that when you use drugs or alcohol for any reason, you may be prone to the development of addiction.

However, having a genetic predisposition for the development of addiction by no means guarantees that you will end up with the disorder. You do have to choose to use an illicit substance, first of all, and the experience of seeing firsthand and up close all the negative consequences of drug use and abuse can be a great deterrent from even mild use of drugs or alcohol.

Other Causes

In most cases, there is no one single cause of addiction. Usually, a combination of factors contributes to the development of drug dependence. In addition to genetics, certain other issues may be contributing causes:


  • Early age of first use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Easy and regular access to drugs of abuse, including alcohol
  • Growing up in or regular exposure to a permissive attitude about drug and alcohol use
  • Living with a co-occurring mental health issue (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.)

If you struggle with depression and grew up with a biological parent who abused drugs or alcohol, you do have a genetic predisposition to the development of addiction plus exposure to a permissive environment for drug and alcohol abuse – not to mention early access to illicit substances. If you developed a depression disorder as well, then there’s yet another common factor.

However, even in the face of all these potential causes, it is possible to escape the sentence of addiction, and even those who do develop a dependence on drugs or alcohol aren’t doomed to a life of pain, health problems and self-destruction. Treatment is always an option.

Treatment Changes Lives

It doesn’t matter what happened in your childhood or the experience of your parents or friends or other family members. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been drinking or using drugs or whether or not you are living with mental health symptoms as well. You always have the choice to get the treatment that will help you create the life you were meant to live.

Contact us at Alta Mira today to learn more about our intensive treatment program and find out how to get started now.





Problem Drinking Contributes to Cognitive Decline in Men, Says Study

drinking and driving

Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging for many people, but a recent study published in the journal Neurology found that men who drink heavily during middle age experience a far more rapid mental decline when compared to those who drink minimally or not at all.

The Effects of Drinking During Middle Age

So what exactly does “heavy drinking” look like for the purposes of the study? The research shows that men who drink a minimum of 2.5 alcoholic beverages each day were more likely to do poorly on memory tests about six years earlier than men who drank less each day, according to USA Today, and their cognitive functioning declined about two years earlier as compared to men who drank less.

Participants were, on average, the age of 45 at the time the study began, and 10 years later they participated in memory and cognitive skills tests.

The good news is that only those who drank at these levels throughout the course of the study experienced these negative effects. Participants who quit drinking during the study or cut back to fewer than two alcoholic beverages a day did not exhibit the same poor results on memory and thinking skills tests.

Séverine Sabia, PhD, of the University College London was one of the study’s authors. In a news release, Sabia said: “Much of the research evidence about drinking and a relationship to memory and executive function is based on older populations. Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster decline in all areas of cognitive function in men.”

Quit Early, Quit Now

The study also demonstrates that it isn’t just those who drink heavily during their 20s and 30s who experience negative physical and mental health outcomes. Long-term drinking increases the risks of a number of issues over the course of a lifetime, even if the amount of drinking is only slightly higher than the recommended upper limits (e.g., one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men).

Cutting back on alcohol intake – or getting help and quitting altogether if that is impossible to do alone – seems to have the potential to stop some of the negative effects of alcohol abuse in their tracks. In other cases, it may also slow the progress of other long-term health problems caused by alcohol abuse and addiction, and depending upon the specifics of the disorder, the negative effects may even be reversed entirely through positive lifestyle changes in recovery.

Learn more about the benefits of alcohol and drug abuse treatment when you contact us at Alta Mira today. You can begin your new life in recovery or help your loved one begin the treatment process.



Does Long-Term Drug Abuse Add Up to an Addiction?

detox-help Can long-term heavy use of drugs and alcohol be clinically termed a substance abuse disorder? It’s a question that was asked in a recent study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, and researchers found that heavy use of any illicit substance over time caused many of the same neurobiological effects seen in patients who are living with addiction. Social issues and increased morbidity rates are also seen, all of which add up to support for the idea of helping patients get treatment anywhere along the spectrum of drug and alcohol use instead of waiting until a defined diagnosis of addiction can be obtained.

Why Does This Matter?

Does it really matter what we call it if the effects are the same? The researchers believe so. They say that the stigma associated with addiction may stop people from seeking the diagnosis that will open the door to effective treatment, so the best way to help them start mitigating the effects of heavy drug use is to allow for treatment earlier and recognize that this spectrum disorder will require increasing amounts of therapeutic support.

A Rose by Any Other Name

In getting people treatment, it may be helpful to acknowledge the spectrum that defines substance abuse and use in different patients over time. When someone abuses alcohol or other drugs heavily for long periods – no matter what you call it – it can have devastating effects. These can include:

  • Accident under the influence
  • Overdose and other acute medical emergency
  • Long-term health problems
  • Changes in the brain that alter personality and increase compulsive use of drugs and alcohol
  • Relationship problems with others at work and at home
  • Difficulty maintaining employment due to issues showing up on time and/or doing a good job
  • Difficulty managing day-to-day tasks like budgeting, personal care, home care and more

As a rule of thumb, when someone begins to experience negative consequences like the ones listed above due to drug and alcohol abuse yet is still unable to moderate or manage their substance use, it’s time to seek help. Depending on the specific experience of the person, it may or may not be necessary to enroll in a residential treatment program immediately. If less intensive treatment options are not effective or if substance abuse is a long-term issue, then residential care is often recommended.

Get the Help You Need

If your loved one is in need of treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, Alta Mira offers a personalized treatment program designed to help them move forward toward abstinence. Call today to get started.

Attorney General Contradicts Obama’s Drug Statements, Calls All Drugs ‘Potentially Harmful’

Jogging womanPresident Obama made a few comments that had many up in arms when he spoke to the New Yorker concerning drug use. When asked about the legalization of marijuana in certain states and towns across the country, he said: “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Obama did go on to make it clear that he did not condone the use of marijuana and that he was concerned about the “experiment” happening in Colorado and Oregon and whether or not it might lead to attempts to rationalize a “safe” dose of “harder drugs” like cocaine or crystal meth.

Attorney General Eric Holder is one of many who have spoken up and voiced their opinion about the controversial interview. Holder made it clear in a Senate committee meeting that all drugs including alcohol were “potentially harmful” when he was asked whether or not he agreed with Obama’s statements that implied that use of marijuana may be less dangerous due to “its impact on the individual consumer.”

According to CNN, Holder also said: “I think that any drug used in an inappropriate way can be harmful. And alcohol is among those.”

Assessing Harm

If alcohol is clearly harmful yet has been legal for years, and marijuana too is harmful yet is increasingly more accessible across the country, then how can people protect themselves from these substances?

Recognizing that both drugs are damaging to physical and mental health is the first step. Next, making choices that take into account your body’s personal response to these substances is key.

Additionally, if you or someone you love is unable to moderate their use of any substance and the negative consequences begin to pile up, help is available. You’re not alone.

Treatment for Drug Abuse of All Kinds

Alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications – all these substance are legal in some form or fashion and dangerous if used too often or in too large amounts. Not everyone who uses them will suffer from overdose, addiction, chronic health problems, and acute social and personal issues; however, not everyone who uses them will walk away unscathed either.

If someone you love is unable to get out from under the weight of substance abuse and addiction, we can help. Contact us at Alta Mira today to learn more about our evidence-based drug rehab program.

Task Force Addiction Expert Assesses Risk of Marijuana Legalization


Dr. Christian Thurstone is an addiction expert who is concerned that new marijuana legislation like A64 in Colorado could have a devastating impact in a number of different areas. In order to formalize the discussion and create a forum for the development of legislation to handle issues before they arise, a new task force has been created. The group intends to address issues such as:

  • Marketing of marijuana products
  • Increased access to marijuana for underage users
  • The development of dependence
  • Parents allowing underage use of the drug
  • The effects of secondhand smoke

Says Thurstone: “I was personally sad for kids about the passing of 64. But I think that if my service on that task force helps one kid’s life, then it’ll be worth it to me. I’m not a big fan of full legalization of marijuana, I didn’t support it. At the same [time]…if I can contribute to one kid not destroying his or life getting addicted to marijuana, then I will have accomplished my goal.”

Legality Doesn’t Equate With Free Use

Alcohol is legal and so are prescription medications that are addictive, but they are not without their regulations. The legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults was passed with little address of the regulations that must be implemented in order to protect the public and minors from the risks of marijuana use and abuse. The major concern is adolescent abuse of marijuana, which has been proven to be devastating to the developing brains of teens, but of equal concern is how to stop the general public who choose not to use marijuana avoid being hurt by those who do.

Protecting the Public

Like alcohol, it is important to put measures in place that prioritize safety. Driving under the influence of marijuana, for example, should be just as heavily penalized as driving under the influence of alcohol because the effects can be just as deadly. Education about the effects of marijuana abuse should also be a focus so the public doesn’t develop the mistaken notion that legalization = safe. More and more studies are showing that marijuana is physically addictive – not just psychologically addictive as formerly thought – and though the cost of criminal penalty of prosecuting users of the drug may be somewhat mitigated by legalization, the cost of medical care and treatment related to accident and addiction may be increased.

What Do You Think?


Different forms of marijuana legalization have been popping up around the country. Do you think it’s a good idea? Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.

Partner Violence, Alcohol Abuse and Marijuana: A New Study

natural drug

Thanks to the media attention on the pros and cons of marijuana use as compared to alcohol, more and more research is focused on defining which of the two substances is worse for you or more damaging to the community at large.

The findings of two recent studies – one based on men published in the journal Addictive Behaviors and one based on women published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors – demonstrated that when it comes to partner violence, alcohol use is more likely than marijuana use to trigger a domestic assault.

The Studies

The studies found that:

  • Rates of sexual, psychological and physical abuse increased when the male participants drank alcohol.
  • When alcohol was consumed by men or women, the odds of partner violence increased.
  • With every alcoholic beverage consumed by either party, the chance of partner violence increased in likelihood.
  • When male participants drank five or more alcoholic beverages, the rates of psychological abuse rose.

Comparatively, reported that when male participants used marijuana, there was no relationship found with intimate partner violence.

Also, it wasn’t just men who were violent after drinking alcohol. Women, too, reported behaving in more psychologically and physically violent ways after they imbibed. However, they were also abusive while smoking marijuana; increased rates of psychological abuse were reported among women who were high.

Ryan Shorey was a lead researcher on the studies. In a news release, he said: “Our findings suggest that dating violence prevention and intervention programs should target reduction in alcohol use, but surprisingly, most of these programs largely ignore alcohol use.”

All the Issues Driving Substance Abuse

Violence, aggression and psychological abuse as well as problems in relationships are just a few of the potential consequences when substance use and abuse are present. Though many families believe that undergoing treatment will erase all the problems that use of these drugs cause, the fact is that it is often necessary to look at those issues head on in a therapeutic setting during treatment. Once alcohol and other substances are removed from the equation, it’s often easier to identify other issues that may be contributing to the problem – everything from untreated mental health symptoms to underlying trauma – and get directed help to overcome those as well.

Learn more about the kind of comprehensive care that will help your loved one overcome substance abuse when you contact us at Alta Mira today. Get the information you need to make a difference in your loved one’s life.