The Genetics Behind Addiction

The Genetics Behind Addiction

Researchers believe a complex mixture of genetics, family history, social history, and environment combine to influence each person’s propensity for addiction. You are not a product of your genes, but your genes can influence how quickly you become addicted to substances.

Looking for the Addiction Gene

Researchers already know that addiction tends to run in families. If a close blood relative was addicted to drugs or alcohol, you have a much higher chance of also developing an addiction. This is an important clue in the hunt for the addiction gene.

Many genes contribute to the development of addiction. The University of Utah lists them as follows:

  • The A1 allele on the dopamine receptor DRD2 seems to be linked to addiction to alcohol and cocaine.
  • If the serotonin gene Htr1b is missing in mice, they are more likely to become addicted to alcohol and cocaine.
  • When neuropeptide Y levels are low in mice, they seem to drink more alcohol.
  • Mice with a defective gene called Per 2 drink three times as much alcohol as mice with a normal copy of this gene.

Other genes seem to make people (or mice) less likely to become addicted. For example, people with two copies of the ALDH*2 gene are less likely to become alcoholics. These and other findings may help researchers develop gene therapies to correct “addiction prone” genes.

Not Just the Genes That Cause Addiction

Genetic expression determines whether you are short or tall, or if you have blue eyes or brown. You may inherit certain traits from your ancestors, such as an ability to write beautiful poetry or to solve complex mathematics equations. The actual expression of those genes, however, takes place within the context of your society.

In the example of someone who inherits a facility with languages, that genetic trait may help them write beautiful poetry. They may also choose to use their gift to be a teacher, using language to engage young minds and encourage them to learn a particular subject. The actual expression of the genetic propensity changes depending on personal choice and circumstances.

If You Are in Need of Help to Overcome Addiction, Contact Clarity Way

You cannot control your genetic makeup, but you can choose how you respond to it. If you know your family has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, avoiding or abstaining from use may be a smart choice. If you find yourself in trouble with either drugs or alcohol, though, get help.

Clarity Way offers drug and alcohol rehab in Pennsylvania. Our quiet location, high staff-to-client ratio, and array of services make us a great choice when you need help with substance abuse. Call us today at 888-879-1289.

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Posted on January 28th, 2016 in Blog


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