According to a recent study published Online First in Archives of General Psychiatry, adopted children whose biological parents had a drug problem, are more likely to abuse drugs themselves. A 2008 study, by Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine said about 120,000 children are adopted each year in the U.S, with 40,00 of the adoptions being international.

The authors write that they have put a lot of effort into finding out what family factors have to do with drug abuse among the millions of people who are addicted to drugs worldwide.

To determine their findings, Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University, and his team set out to find the relationship between genetic factors, environmental factors, and drug abuse. Also known commonly as nature vs. nuture. In other worlds, are children who they are raised to become? Or are children who their genetic factors make them?

The authors studied 18,115 children who were born in Sweden between 1950 and 1993. They also studied their biological and adoptive relatives. The researchers used information about drug abuse from legal, medical, and pharmacy records. They also used information from health databases and national registries.

The average age of the adoptees that were studied by the researchers was 46.2 years when their information was last available, and the researchers say that the chance of a drug addiction developing in children who were adopted, and had one biological parent with a drug problem, was 8.6%. These adoptees were found to have a 4.5% rate of drug abuse, as opposed to the 2.9% rate of people in Sweden who were born within the same time period.

The researchers said:

“Risk for DA in adopted children is increased by a history in biological parents and siblings not only of DA but also of alcoholism, major psychiatric illness and criminal convictions. Risk for DA in adopted children is increased by disruption in the adoptive parent-adopted child bond by death or divorce but also by a range of indices of a disturbed adoptive home environment and deviant peer influences such as parental alcoholism and sibling drug abuse, respectively.”

The authors state that their findings indicate that although genetic factors were a huge part of whether or not a child is more likely to develop a drug problem, the main factors are whether or not the child was raised in a high-risk environment or not. Basically, a child raised in a household which was not stable, ect., would play a big part in the chances of the child having a drug problem later in life.

Kendler states:

“A bad environment can augment the effect of genetic risk on drug abuse.”

The researches conclude:

“Adopted children at high genetic risk were more sensitive to the pathogenic effects of adverse family environments than those at low genetic risk. In other words, genetic effects on DA were less potent in low-risk than high-risk environments.”

Written By Christine Kearney