Doctors Examine Link Between Genetics and Addiction


 The weekend incident involving Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter Bobbi Kristine is raising questions about drug addiction and families. The 21-year-old remains in a medically induced coma after being found unresponsive in her bathtub.

Bobbi Kristina was 18 when her mother died, and since then, there has been speculation that she was going down the same path. No one has confirmed what caused her Saturday collapse.

Generations of addiction is a sad, but prominent phenomenon, according to Dr. Steven Corder of Northwood Health System. He said there can be a genetic predisposition toward addiction.

“Most of our information is on alcoholism. But it shows that people who have one parent that suffered from alcoholism have at least a 75% chance of developing the illness themselves,” he said.

But “nature” doesn’t tell the whole story. If a child is raised in an environment where addiction is a way of life, that can also be a strong contributing factor. “You can take identical twins that are separated at birth and if one twin’s raised in an alcoholic family, they have a much higher rate of developing alcoholism themselves than the twin that’s raised in a non-drinking, non-alcoholic family,” Corder said.

Whitney Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, the father of Bobbi Kristine, has a history of drug use and run-ins with the law. Dr. Corder said a child who grows up in a culture of drugs is more pre-disposed, but not necessarily helpless to stop the cycle. “Anything that our parents have done–or other members of our family have done–we’re not destined to always repeat those same mistakes or those same patterns,” he added.

The public is often puzzled by the addiction problems of the rich and famous, who have almost unlimited resources and access to rehab and detox. “The biggest deterrent to rehab and treatment is probably not money. For instance in this area, including at Northwood Health Systems, there’s treatment available, regardless of your ability to pay,” Dr. Corder said.

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