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Unlocking Adoptees' Genetic Blueprint for Optimal Mental Health with Dr. Evelyn Higgins and Joey Nakao - Ep 114

Unraveling Adoption

Release Date: 10/09/2023

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"Don't let shame and stigma add to the struggles of being adopted. Personalized genetic testing can provide valuable insights and guidance for addiction treatment. Let's break the cycle and empower individuals to heal." - Dr. Evelyn Higgins

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the endless trial and error of finding the right treatment for your mental health and/or addiction issues? Are you trying various medications and therapies that don't seem to alleviate your pain or provide lasting relief? I think many adoptees (and others!) can relate! It can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening to invest time, money, and hope into treatments that simply don't work, leaving you stuck in a cycle of disappointment and despair.

WATCH THIS EPISODE ON YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXZoCMUQgck
Parts 2 and 3 include video content (starting at 40:00)

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Discover how genetic testing can reveal your susceptibility to addiction and other system dysregulation and empower you to make informed choices for a healthier life.

  • Understand the importance of exploring your genetic and family history in adoption to gain crucial insights into your potential health risks and make proactive decisions.

  • Uncover the intricate connection between neurotransmitters and genetic variations in addiction and mental health, providing a new perspective on the underlying causes and potential solutions.

  • Explore how personalized protocols tailored to your unique DNA can revolutionize your mental health and addiction recovery journey, unlocking a pathway to lasting transformation.

  • Learn about the transformative power of addressing genetic imbalances through targeted interventions, offering hope and new possibilities for improved mental well-being and overcoming addiction.

  • Hear (and see!) a real-life example of an adoptee going through the genetic testing. Find out the results that Joey received from his test and the customized protocol that was prescribed afterwards.



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My special guests for this episode are Dr. Evelyn Higgins and my son Joey Nakao

Dr. Evelyn Higgins is a highly accomplished professional in the field of addiction and integrative medicine. With 34 years of clinical experience, she holds expertise in addictionology and pain management. As the CEO and founder of Wired for Addiction, Dr. Higgins has dedicated herself to helping individuals struggling with addiction through personalized treatment plans based on genetic profiles. Wired for Addiction utilizes advanced technology to analyze 85 biomarkers, including neurotransmitters and genetic SNPs, providing a comprehensive understanding of an individual's unique biology. Through a 31-page gene mapping report, clients gain insights into their brain chemistry, hormonal interactions, and genetic aberrations related to addiction, anxiety, depression, and impulse control. Armed with this objective information, clients receive an individualized biochemical pathway support plan to guide their healing journey. Dr. Higgins' work has made a significant impact in the field, offering improved mental health and addiction treatment outcomes through personalized interventions tailored to each individual's genetic profile.

Joey Nakao is a 19-year-old who has been on a journey of personal growth and healing while battling addiction for the past six years. As the son of Beth Syverson, the host of Unraveling Adoption, Joey's experience with addiction has led his family to explore numerous treatment options. Beth heard Dr. Evelyn Higgins on Heather Ross's podcast Living With Your Child's Addiction. She was fascinated with her expertise in addiction and genetic-based treatment plans. Joey decided to become a client of hers through her company Wired for Addiction (now also known as Wired BioHealth). With the hope of gaining insights into his unique biology and understanding how it relates to his addiction and mental health, Joey eagerly awaited the results of his gene mapping report, which you will hear about in this episode. By taking this proactive step, Joey is determined to improve his mental health and addiction treatment outcomes while uncovering a deeper understanding of himself. Through his journey, Joey aims to inspire and help others facing similar challenges, shedding light on the powerful impact of personalized interventions based on genetic profiles.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

Genetic Testing for Personalized Addiction Treatment
Genetic testing provides an in-depth analysis that can be used to create personalized addiction treatment strategies. It takes into account the individual's unique genetic sequence and factors in potential medical conditions to offer tailored solutions. By providing a comprehensive understanding of an individual's body chemistry, it opens up new avenues for effective therapy and leads to improved outcomes.n This is particularly useful for adoptees who are not in an open relationship with their biological families.

Role of Neurotransmitters in Addiction and Mental Health
Neurotransmitters are the body's chemical messengers that play a significant role in addiction and mental health. Imbalances in neurotransmitter levels can contribute to addictive behaviors and mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Understanding the complex workings of these neurotransmitters can provide insights into effective treatment strategies for addiction and mental health conditions.

Other Resources:


Unraveling Adoption is produced and hosted by Beth Syverson

Music written and performed by Joseph Nakao

Email questions or comments to [email protected]

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Support Unraveling Adoption on Patreon: Patreon.com/UnravelingAdoption



Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:00:55 - Background and Connection to Adoption,
Dr. Evelyn Higgins shares her personal connection to adoption and how it has influenced her work in addiction recovery. She discusses her late husband's [late discovery] adoption and the importance of knowing one's genetic and family history.

00:03:01 - Adoption and Addiction,
The conversation turns to the link between adoption and addiction, with Dr. Higgins highlighting the higher prevalence of substance use disorders among adult adoptees. Beth shares her own experience as an adoptive parent of a son struggling with addiction.

00:07:38 - Gene Testing and Understanding DNA,
Dr. Higgins explains the process of gene testing and how it has evolved since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the role of genetics in addiction and mental health.

00:09:32 - The Test and Information Revealed,
Dr. Higgins provides an overview of the Wired for Addiction test, which examines 85 different biomarkers related to neurotransmitters and brain chemicals. She explains that the test will provide Joey with personalized information about his unique biology and how it relates to addiction and mental health.

00:13:09 - The Importance of Personal Histories,
Beth discusses her frustration with a healthcare provider who dismisses the reliability of genetic tests and prefers personal histories. She highlights the need for understanding and openness in healthcare professionals.

00:13:59 - The Need for Technology in Mental Health,
The conversation emphasizes the importance of using technology in mental health to provide objective information and improve diagnosis and treatment. It challenges the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.

00:16:57 - The Impact of Genetic Testing on Addiction,
The guest explains that genetic testing for addiction provides a comprehensive clinical picture to individuals struggling with addiction. It often brings relief and understanding to both the individual and their family.

00:19:06 - Epigenetics and Addiction,
Epigenetics plays a role in addiction, as it can determine whether certain genes related to addiction are expressed. Trauma and major life transitions can trigger the expression of these genes.

00:20:32 - Addiction and Mental Health,
Addiction often stems from undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions, trauma, or a combination of factors. Many individuals turn to substances as a form of self-medication, not realizing the underlying issues.

00:25:36 - The Power of Genetic Testing in Addiction Treatment,
Dr. Higgins discusses a case study where genetic testing helped understand the impact of addiction on a child's biomarkers. The test provided valuable information on neurotransmitters and genetics, leading to successful treatment and a positive change in the child's behavior and family dynamics.

00:26:57 - The Benefits of Genetic Testing for Adoptees,
Dr. Higgins emphasizes the importance of genetic testing for adoptees who may not have access to their birth family's medical history. Genetic testing can provide valuable insights into their own biology and help them make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices.

00:28:12 - Understanding the Genetic Basis of Mental Health,
Dr. Higgins highlights the potential of genetic testing to uncover the underlying causes of mental health issues. By identifying specific genes and biomarkers, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their struggles and develop personalized treatment plans for improved mental well-being.

00:30:43 - The Role of Free Will and Choice,
Dr. Higgins acknowledges that genetic testing provides valuable information, but individuals still have the freedom to choose how they want to act on that information. It's up to each person to decide whether they want to pursue treatment options or make lifestyle changes based on their genetic results.

00:33:42 - The Emotional Impact of Genetic Testing,
Dr. Higgins discusses an emotional moment during an earlier consultation with Joey, who expressed fear about discovering his true identity through genetic testing.

00:37:44 - The Importance of Maximizing Quality of Life,
The speaker emphasizes the importance of maximizing quality of life and living it to the fullest. They discuss the impact of making positive changes and how it can affect not only individual lives but also the lives of those around them.

00:38:19 - Recognition for Life-Changing Work,
The speaker expresses admiration for the guest's work and suggests that they should receive recognition, possibly even a Nobel Prize, for their efforts in changing lives and making a significant impact.

WATCH THIS EPISODE ON YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXZoCMUQgck
Parts 2 and 3 include video content (starting at 40:00)

00:39:37 - Understanding Test Results,
The guest explains the different sections of the test results, including neurotransmitters, epigenetics, supplement protocols, and pharmacogenic reports. They highlight the value of these tests in providing valuable information for understanding an individual's biology and making necessary changes for healing.

00:45:07 - Low Norepinephrine and Epinephrine Levels,
The guest discusses Joey's low levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine, which can be associated with depression, mood changes, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. They explain how these imbalances can affect motivation and make it challenging to achieve goals.

00:47:00 - Impact of Imbalanced Neurotransmitters,
The speaker reveals Joey's low levels of glutamate, which can impact learning and memory. They discuss the negative effects of imbalanced neurotransmitters on an individual's self-esteem and overall quality of life. They express excitement about the potential for improvement and the positive changes that

00:52:59 - Genetic Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms,
Dr. Higgins explains that polymorphism refers to errors in genetic coding and discusses the study of epigenetics. She emphasizes that our DNA can be upregulated or downregulated by our environment, which can have a profound impact on our biology.

00:54:25 - Gene Expression and Health,
Dr. Higgins explains that lifestyle habits and environmental factors can change the expression of our genes, which can affect our health. She highlights the importance of a healthy lifestyle, stress management, and adequate sleep in maintaining optimal gene expression.

00:55:16 - Impact of Gene Polymorphisms,
Dr. Higgins discusses specific gene polymorphisms and their implications. She explains that certain polymorphisms increase the risk of asthma and inflammatory disorders, while others contribute to a more robust inflammatory response. These gene variations can also affect neurotransmitters and brain chemicals, potentially leading to conditions like anxiety and depression.

00:57:27 - Autophagy and Cellular Quality Control,
Dr. Higgins explains the concept of autophagy, which is responsible for clearing out cellular waste. She discusses specific gene variations related to autophagy and highlights the importance of maintaining a clean diet, good sleep, and reducing exposure to harmful substances to prevent the activation of these genes.

01:00:14 - Environmental Factors and Inflammatory Markers,
Dr. Higgins discusses how our environment can affect inflammatory markers. She explains that certain gene variations increase the risk of autoimmune conditions and chronic

01:09:25 - Initial Reaction to the Genetic Information,
Joey expresses feeling overwhelmed and impressed by the genetic information presented to him, noting that he has always enjoyed science and math.

01:10:04 - Addressing Addiction on a Genetic Level,
Beth questions how the genetic information relates to addiction. Dr. Higgins explains that addiction is influenced by multiple genetic markers and factors working together, rather than a singular gene.

01:11:01 - Genetic Propensity and Substance Use,
Dr. Higgins discusses the concept of a genetic predisposition to addiction, explaining that when multiple genetic markers are present, it creates a "perfect storm" for substance use to occur.

01:13:14 - Update on Joey's Progress,
Joey shares his positive experience after taking the suggested supplements for seven weeks. He reports feeling different in a good way, with increased energy, focus, and productivity.

01:18:33 - Positive Changes and Future Outlook,
Joey discusses the significant changes he has experienced, such as being more proactive, having ideas and following through on them. He expresses optimism about his future, focusing on productivity, stability, and happiness.

01:24:54 - Achieving Baseline and Personal Growth,
The conversation discusses how achieving baseline in one's life allows for personal growth and pursuing other interests like going to the gym. It emphasizes the importance of being open to trying different things and acknowledges the hard work put into achieving this state.

01:25:27 - Wired for Addiction (Wired BioHealth),
The podcast highlights the name change of Wired for Addiction to Wired BioHealth and encourages listeners to check out their website for more information. It expresses hope that this episode will help many people.