Genes Play Role in Severity of Drug Addiction


A new study has found that our genes could affect how severe an addiction to drugs might be. It also found that the longer the abuse has been going on, the more severe it becomes.

HealthDay News wrote:

A research team at the Brookhaven National Laboratory found that drug addicts who have a certain genetic makeup have lower gray matter density -- and therefore fewer neurons -- in areas of the brain that are important for decision-making, self-control, learning and memory.

The co-author of the study, medical scientist Nelly Alia-Klein, said in a news release:

"This research shows that genes can influence the severity of addiction. The results suggest that addicted individuals with low MAOA [monoamine oxidase A] genotype may need a different kind of treatment than other addicted individuals who carry the high MAOA genotype."

Alia-Klein said this could drastically change the way people are treated for their addictions. However, she said more research is needed to figure out exactly what new strategies should be taken.

The length of addiction is also important. HealthDay News added:

The study, which included 40 men addicted to cocaine and 42 non-addicted men, also found that the longer someone abuses cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes, the lower the amount of gray matter in frontal areas of the brain (responsible for decision-making and self-control) and the hippocampus (responsible for learning and memory).

The study is published in the current Archives of General Psychiatry.

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