How Adolescent Alcohol Rehab in Iowa Understands Generational Cycles of Use and Addiction
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Research shows that half of all alcohol use disorders are inherited.[1] While genetics can certainly play a role, other family behaviors and environmental factors can also create a generational cycle of alcohol use and addiction. As an adolescent alcohol rehab in Iowa, Ember Recovery recognizes this and uses techniques and treatments to help teens get sober and break the cycle of addiction. We’re going to take a closer look at how addiction is passed down through generations and what can be done to break the cycle.

How is Addiction Passed Down Through Generations?

Generational cycles of use and addiction can occur for a variety of reasons. Different factors can combine, putting teens on a dangerous path at a very young age.


Research shows that the more relatives you have living with an alcohol use disorder and the more closely related they are, the higher your genetic risk is of developing the same condition.[2] But there is no single gene that is responsible for causing an alcohol use disorder. Instead, evidence-based research indicates that a person’s risk of developing an alcohol use problem is due to variations of many different genes.[3]

Two specific genes, ALDH2 and ADH1B, have been shown to affect a person’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.[3] These genes impact how the body metabolizes alcohol. Variations of these genes have been linked to the building of a chemical (acetaldehyde) that results from the body metabolizing alcohol. If someone has certain variations of these two genes, they may have a lower risk of alcoholism than someone who does not.

Exposure to Alcohol Use

Alcoholism can be passed down through the generations when children see their parents abusing alcohol. Studies show that an estimated 25% of all children in the United States are exposed to alcohol abuse or dependence within their families.[4]

Children are not only exposed to the behavior but may also have easy access to substances at a young age. Some children may be turned off to alcohol due to the impact they see it has on their parents. However, some may be drawn to it out of curiosity or to imitate their parent’s behavior.


If a child is exposed to a toxic environment due to their parent’s alcohol use, they may become traumatized by the effects. Alcoholism can lead to abuse, abandonment, and mental health issues. This can can put a teen at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.  Statistics show that many teens who are dealing with mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, turn to alcohol and other substances for comfort [5] So, a teen who is depressed or nervous about their parent’s alcohol use can develop a problem with alcohol themselves, perpetuating the cycle.

How to Break the Cycles of Alcohol Use and Addiction

Just as important as recognizing how an alcohol use disorder is passed down through generations is knowing how to break the cycle for generations to come.

Be Aware of Family History

Being aware of family history can allow people to notice symptoms that they may be going down the same path as their relatives. Talk to family members to see if there is a history of alcohol use disorders in your family. If so, ask how closely these people are related to you. Additionally, ask how many people in your family have had this type of problem.

Practice Forgiveness

Part of recovering and breaking the cycle of addiction is to practice forgiveness. Forgiving parents of past mistakes with alcohol can help teens move forward. Teens also need to forgive themselves to release negative emotions that they mask through alcohol. This can help to break the cycle of addiction and help families recover as a whole.

Family Support & Therapy At An Adolescent Alcohol Rehab in Iowa 

If there is a family history of alcohol use disorders, seeking a family therapy model can be helpful to understand underlying issues. If families can sit down and discuss issues with the help of a trained professional, it can help to break the cycle of alcohol use and addiction. Many times, some problems have been lingering for years that have contributed to family alcohol abuse. Bringing these issues to light is part of the healing process. As families talk and learn from one another, they can prevent future generations from falling into the same patterns.

Seek Treatment

Seeking treatment can help teens to overcome their alcohol use disorder. By learning what led to their addiction and how to live without alcohol, teens can help future generations from going down the same path. Recognizing the signs of addiction and seeking treatment are the first steps in regaining control of your life. By learning to live sober, teens can prevent younger generations from falling into the same dangerous situations.

Practice Self-Care

When teens take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally, it can put them in an excellent place to recover and move forward. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help teens feel good about themselves. Journaling, meditating, and mindfulness can also help to reduce stress so that teens are not tempted to use alcohol.

Seek Adolescent Alcohol Rehab in Iowa at Ember Recovery

Ember Recovery is committed to helping teens break free of their alcohol dependence and live sober, productive lives. We are focused on helping teens become better versions of themselves by understanding their alcohol use disorders and overcoming them.

Our team customizes a plan for each teen who enters our program. We use a variety of therapies that best suit each individual. Through support groups, individual therapy, and other treatments, teens learn that it is possible to break free from the cycles of alcohol use and live a sober life.

Contact Ember Recovery today to learn how our programs can help your teen get on a sober path.