Why Does My Therapist Ask Me About Family?

If you decide to use cocaine, then it is a personal choice, but one that is influenced by multiple factors, such as your biology, family history with drugs and psychological or sociocultural factors. In other words, you can choose to use cocaine, but the risk of developing an addiction to it can be greatly influenced by your genetics. Research shows that an individual’s genes are responsible for nearly half the risk of addiction, and, while genetics do not solely determine the chances of addiction, they may increase the likelihood of becoming dependent upon your drug of choice[1]. While you make your own fate with drug addiction, your genetic history certainly plays a hand in this ordeal.

A recovering addict may believe her therapist is trying to pry into her personal history if he asks about her family history and family involvement. However, numerous scientific studies reveal that drug addiction and dependence runs in families, so these questions are apropos to treatment. Although no one specific gene or issue leads to addiction, a number of genetic and environmental factors make people more or less vulnerable to addiction. Learn what these issues are to know if you need additional help to avoid drug abuse.

How Is My Family History Relevant to My Addiction?

People who have a one or more blood relatives who struggled with addiction have a significantly higher risk of addiction and mental health disorders than people who lack this problem in their family history[2]. As a result, an addiction therapist may ask about one’s family history and involvement for any of the following reasons:

  • Determine biological factors for addiction
  • Address any trauma associated with loved ones
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Improve communication with loved ones

Unfortunately, genetics are not the only problem that influence drug abuse, or else addiction recovery might be easy; to the point, environment, upbringing and parenting styles make up nearly the other half of an individual’s addiction risk. If someone’s childhood had loved ones continuously abusing drugs, laboring under the influence or constantly leaving drugs and paraphernalia around, then chances are that those children have much higher risks of addiction than people who never endured these problems. Therapists will likely touch on these subjects to determine some reference for an individual’s addiction, such as when in childhood someone first saw drugs, whether her parents were addicted to drugs or alcohol and if drug paraphernalia was constantly in one’s immediate environment? All these questions can help therapists narrow down the best course of treatment so people can have better chances at achieving and maintaining sobriety.

Depending upon the reasons behind an individual’s first initial use of cocaine, he may find that, buried under years of addiction, the root cause of drug abuse was a traumatic experience he never fully processed. This trauma could have been a loved one’s abuse or death or feeling abandoned when a loved one behaved poorly while under the influence of drugs. When left untreated or ignored, trauma can lead someone further down the road of addiction, because he may abuse drugs solely to numb the pain he still carries from that experience. Although it can be overwhelming and scary to address trauma in addiction treatment, this step is vital, as healing in a healthy manner could give him back his life without addiction interfering. In short, you must not only address drug abuse, but also the factors that contribute to it.

Being supported during addiction recovery process gives people the motivation and momentum they need to overcome hurdles they experience. Typically, a therapist will help patients set healthy boundaries with both her loved ones and her future relationships. This task means learning to communicate effectively with other people, even in stressful environments. They must also learn to build trust and to pinpoint people who can jeopardize the recovery process. Because recovery is a lifelong process, it requires constant commitment so people can approach loved ones about the actions, both past and present, that affect sobriety. When people understand how their and their loved ones’ behaviors affect recovery, then they can reinforce both to themselves and to other people how important sobriety is.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know struggles with cocaine addiction and is unsure why they therapists care about their family history or involvement, then please give our toll-free helpline a call. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to guide you through the recovery process. To ease some of your anxiety, reach out to our staff now and begin recovery as soon as possible.


[1] https://ncadd.org/about-addiction/family-history-and-genetics, Family History and Genetics, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., 02/23/2016, 04/25/2015.

[2] http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2013/05/does-addiction-run-in-your-family/, Does Addiction Run in Your Family? How to Talk to Your Kids About Their Risk, David Sack, MD., 02/23/2016, 2013.

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