“Why did I get that part of you?” Understanding addiction genetics through family history

Molly J. Dingel, Jenny Ostergren, Barbara A. Koenig, Jennifer McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Scientists have sought to uncover the genetic bases of many diseases and disorders. In response, scholars defined “geneticization” to describe genetic infiltration of understandings of health and illness. In our research, we interviewed 63 individuals in addiction treatment programs to identify what form of geneticization best fits individuals’ description of their own addiction. Individuals’ narratives of their lives, which include family history and are influenced by cultural and structural factors, affect respondents’ reactions to a potential genetic basis of addiction. Most who had a family history of addiction subscribed to a notion that addiction “runs in families,” while most who lacked a family history of addiction used this fact to reject the notion of genetic inheritance of addiction. We conclude that though we see elements of several different versions of geneticization, Nikolas Rose’s version, that genetics affects peoples’ perceptions of addiction in small but important ways, best describes our respondents’ views.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-67
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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