Are we all victims of our genetic layout? For the average person the answer is yes – if a certain disease runs in your family, then you will more than likely suffer from it too. Is the same true for mental illnesses and addiction? Most people would answer yes as well. If your mom or dad suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, you are eight times more likely to also suffer from addiction issues. Does this mean that all children of drug addicts are doomed to struggle with addiction? Not necessarily.

We may have been looking at the addiction problem from the wrong perspective. What if we aren’t all victims of our genetic layout? What if it’s our perspective and our surroundings that actually mold us into who we are? For several years now many scientists have been studying how different environments affect genes. This field is known as Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how your internal and external environments change the expression of your genes. It puts hard science behind what humans have long known – that you can optimize your diet, behavior, and environment to move your body and mind to new levels.

Epigenetics blows the doors off conventional thinking when it comes to your environment and your genes. There is no longer any doubt that you can use your environment to “hack” your genes. Bruce H. Lipton, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in bridging science and spirit. Dr. Lipton is a stem cell biologist, bestselling author of The Biology of Belief, and the recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award. He has also been a guest speaker on hundreds of television and radio shows, as well as the keynote presenter for national and international conferences.

His research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, between 1987 and 1992, revealed that the environment, operating though the membrane, can control the behavior and physiology of the cell. Essentially his research showed that environment can turn certain genes on and off. He explains how he placed one stem cell into a culture dish and it divided every ten hours. After two weeks there were thousands of cells in the dish, which were all genetically identical, having been derived from the same parent cell.

Dr. Lipton then divided the cell population and inoculated them in three different culture dishes. He manipulated the culture medium (a.k.a. the cell’s equivalent of the environment in each dish). In one dish, the cells became bone. In another dish, the cells became muscle and in the last dish they became fat. This experiment demonstrated that the genes didn’t determine the fate of the cells because they were all genetic copies. It was the cell’s environment which determined whether the cell became bone, muscle, or fat. If the cells are kept in a healthy environment, they remain healthy. If they are kept in an unhealthy environment, they will get sick.

The same can be said of people. After all, we’re just a bunch of cells, right? If people remain in a good environment, surrounded by loving, supportive, clean friends and family members, they’re less likely to use drugs or abuse alcohol. According to research from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) many environmental factors may contribute to whether someone uses drugs or not. Stress, early physical or sexual abuse, witnessing violence, and being around people who use drugs are all environmental factors that may cause someone to eventually use drugs or alcohol.

Contributed by Guest Blogger Leo Banchero