Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Does addiction run in families?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 12, 2014 2:41 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, November 13, 2014:

The American Medical Association classified alcoholism as a disease in 1956 and like other chronic diseases, scientists say there is a genetic component to alcoholism.

Recent research has shown that the children of people addicted to drugs or alcohol are eight times more likely to develop an addiction themselves. (Addiction and

It doesn't mean a person whose parents were addicted to drugs or alcohol has no choice and will become addicted.  In other words, addiction is not their definitive destiny.  However, what the studies do show is that the children of addicted parents are predisposed to the disease.  That predisposition coupled with poor coping skills are the combination that most often goes into addiction.

Even with the scientific research, many still ask how much of a factor does environment play compared to family history?  And still some believe only those with little willpower or who are weak become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

As part of WITF's Real Life Real Issues: Drugs and Young People project, Smart Talk examines the role of genetics in addiction.

Appearing on the program are Amanda Garrett, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling Services and Tara Montgomery, Program Director, Harrisburg and West Shore Outpatient Programs for Gaudenzia Addiction and Recovery.


Tara Montgomery & Amanda Garrett

Need help? Click here to access a list of Recovery Community Organizations in Pennsylvania.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-11-13 09:53

    Mike emails:

    As the child of an alcoholic parent, I made a decision as a child to not drink, and I have not for my 49 years. My best advice is to develop the child's confidence. It is completely up to them what they put in their body, and confidence is what will withstand the peer pressure and stresses of life to stick to their decision.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-11-13 09:55

    Jamie emails:

    I have a relative who I believe is currently using prescription drugs. Has lost his job lost contact with his children Has no insurance. If we have an intervention and he's willing to seek help where do we go next? He lives in the central Pennsylvania area thank you.

  • Robert D Colgan img 2014-11-13 09:57

    Good show.
    I thought the two guests covered addictions well.

    The idea that there is a genetic component to addiction is a no-brainer (pun)...I worked with the counselor who for years referred people with substance abuse issues in ARD to the proper facilities for help.
    When she asked them whether their parents, or grandparents or aunts/uncles, etc had had a problem with substance abuse and got "no" on all of them----she'd then ask:"When were you adopted?"

    The one thing that is so important is to give people when young the information if they are in family that has a genetic disposition possibility to addiction.
    Without that information they can fall down the rabbit hole.
    With that information they are at least forewarned the hole exists, and that they need to be oh so careful with their desire to join others in alcohol/street drugs/prescriptive meds.

    Thanks for the show, and the other shows related to this one.

  • judjones img 2014-11-13 10:12

    People who are predisposed to addictions must also have more will power than those who are not. It is easy for me to avoid drinking too much because I simply don't have the urge to do so; one who DOES, must work hard at not giving into it. Those with addictions should be given credit for avoiding giving into them.

  • Dolorfinis img 2014-11-13 19:58

    The Hypoism hypothesis of addiction causation pulls together much of the research, and theorizes genetics plays an overwhelming role in addictions. However, addiction itself is NOT the disease but rather a SYMPTOM of a (real) brain disease. It goes like this:
    BRAIN DISEASE (Hypoism)
    1. Addiction(s)(symptom)
    2. Decision making disasters (symptom)
    3. Evaluation mistakes of self & others (symptom)
    Addiction causation is one of THE MOST IMPORTANT issues of our time.

  • Kasey img 2014-11-18 21:23

    My husband is in recovery, 4 years sober now....but still one day at a time. Alcoholism runs on both sides of our families. I have a question ~ Is there any truth that if your "father" was an alcoholic that a son has a higher chance than a daughter? For some reason, I remember hearing or reading this somewhere.