The University of Georgia has published a study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology explaining that supportive parenting can actually counteract the effects of a genetic risk factor that increases the likelihood of substance use among youth. This long-term study examined how nature and nurture can influence the behaviour of youth with a genetic predisposition for substance abuse. “We found that involved and supportive parenting can completely override the effects of a genetic risk for substance abuse,” claims Professor Gene Brody.
The research focused on the 5HTT gene that transports serotonin in the brain. According to many studies, most people possess two copies of a long version of this gene, but the select few that possess one or two copies of a short version tend to be more likely to consume alcohol or other substances and partake in impulsive and risky behaviour.
Results were compiled over 4 years from interviews of 253 rural African-American families. Those with the long version of the 5HTT gene comprised of 60% of these youth. Obviously, the remaining 40% were plagued with the short version and a genetic risk factor for substance abuse. Evidently, substance use increased with age. Youth with the short version of the gene that received only minimal supportive parenting used at rate three times more than youth who had high levels of parental support. “In families that were characterized by strong relationships between children and their parents, the effect of the genetic risk was essentially zero” said UGA Institute for Behavioral Research director Steven Beach.
Regardless of the fact that parenting should already be supportive, knowing which version of the 5HTT gene your child possesses could be very helpful in preventing substance abuse. Spending more time with a child, providing emotional support or encouraging better communication seems like very minimal effort to ensure that possible substance abuse is avoided.
Genetic Risk For Substance Use Can Be Neutralized By Good Parenting
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