Two men in Florida have been dubbed “career criminals” by local law enforcement after a deadly shootout followed an attempt to serve a search warrant at their home. The two men are father and son and were living in what officers suspected to be a “drug house” in central Florida. The father had more than 57 arrests on his record while the son, only 23, had been arrested more than 36 times.
A SWAT team approached the house early in the morning, and the father created a “ruckus” with the officers while his son shot rounds out of a bedroom window. When deputies shot back, a young woman in the home was caught in the crossfire and lost her life.
The family has a long history of violence with law enforcement. The next generation up, the grandfather and father of the two men arrested, has reportedly been serving time since the end of 2015 for attempting to kill a sheriff’s deputy. When stopped at a traffic light a couple weeks prior to the shooting and arrests, the son reportedly told officers, “I’m going to finish what my grandfather tried to do.”
It is true that addiction can run in families, and it is clear this is the case for this family. It is an exceedingly common occurrence. If someone in your family is living with an addiction or has struggled with an addiction in the past, it could happen to you or your blood-related loved one.
Here’s what you need to know.
- Proximity of relationship matters. This means that if one or both of your parents, or a sibling, are struggling with addiction, then the risk that you will develop the disorder if you begin using drugs and alcohol with any regularity is higher than if the person in your family who went through addiction were a grandparent or an aunt or uncle. The more closely related you are, the higher the risk.
- Some of it does have to do with genes. It is estimated that about 50 percent of a person’s likelihood of developing a drug or alcohol abuse or addiction problem is dependent on their genetic makeup. This means that even if a person is removed from their family at birth and raised in a family where no one uses substances of any kind, they may still develop an addiction if they are regularly exposed to substances.
- A lot of it has to do with environment. Living in a neighborhood and going to a school where people you know regularly use and abuse substances can present a positive image of substance abuse, making you feel from a young age that it is “normal” even if it is also clear that it is not safe. Similarly, growing up in a home where people are frequently under the influence can communicate that all adults drink and use drugs, and negatively influence kids to believe that this is what they can and should do if they want to be “grownup” too. These environmental factors and the general perspectives that one grows up with concerning the safety and use of drugs and alcohol can deeply influence when and if someone begins using and how frequently and heavily they use.
- Choices matter. One of the greatest dangers associated with environmental influences is that growing up surrounded by people who actively drink and use drugs can encourage early use of drugs and alcohol. The earlier that someone first tries an addictive substance, the more likely it is that they will develop an addiction in adulthood. This is true whether or not the person has a genetic predisposition for addiction.
- “Risk” does not mean “foregone conclusion.” It is important to note that a family history of addiction does not mean that there is no way you will escape developing an addiction yourself or that you will be unable to change course through treatment and learn how to live a life in sobriety. All it means is that if you drink or use drugs, you are more likely than the average person to have a hard time moderating your use, and that it is a good idea to simply avoid any use at all rather than take the risk.
If you are concerned that your use of drugs and alcohol has reached a crisis point, no matter what your genetic predisposition for addiction, do not wait to reach out for help and get the treatment necessary to regain your balance in recovery.