Addiction being a disease has not always been a known fact. For the previous few decades, research has shown that addiction is a disease caused by abuse of substance that damages the brain.
The brain of a human being makes him seek substances compulsively when its abuse is advanced towards addiction. This coercion could lead to no regard for responsibilities or values in their personal life. Thus, a continuous cycle of addiction begins.
Genes Of Addiction
It is claimed by the Learning Center of Genetic Science that “while looking for addiction genes, scientist are actually trying to find the biological variations that might make a person more or less susceptible to addiction.”
Moreover, some genes might also make it harder or easier for certain people to stop using it. The crucial thing is that even though some genes might make a person more vulnerable to addiction, “someone’s genes will never force them to eventually become a drug addict.”
The unfortunate fact about genes that affect the likelihood of substance abuse is that there is no single trait that regulates a person’s susceptibility to addiction. Different genetic characteristics and environmental factors majorly influence the chances of a person being affected.
Addiction is a complicated disease; therefore, noting down or specifying genetic traits that may have caused it is difficult.
Additionally, just like a lot of other genetic traits, not every person carries similar addiction traits. These traits vary in every human being.
Even if a person has some traits that could make him vulnerable to addiction, they don’t need to become a victim of addiction.
Nuerothropology states that “the main part of research proposes that dependence of drug acts just like other illnesses, with some people devising a genetic makeup that upsurges their danger.”
Different articles and studies show that the inheritance of addiction genes can vary from moderate to high.
In simple words, a person would be more susceptible and vulnerable to addiction if the amount of inherited addiction genes is high.
Moreover, the danger of a person being an addict inclines to be comparative to the degree of genetic association to an addicted family member.”
This is why in the case of identical twins, they will probably become a victim of addiction if they carry the genes, and one among them becomes an addict, and they have shared genetic makeup.
However, research on inheritance and shared genetics have figured out that addiction is also caused by environmental factors and is not solely based on addiction genes.
Role Of Genes In Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is a disease that has mutual features with many characteristics of various chronic illnesses. Heritability is among them, which means the tendency of running in the families.
Different scientists are researching and studying the role that genes pay that makes a person susceptible to drug addiction.
Along with the environment that a person spends their life in and their behavior, genetics also have a crucial role in determining a person’s vulnerability to becoming a drug addict.
According to scientists, genetics have a 40% to 60% role in making a person susceptible to addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is presently performing significant research efforts to classify and determine different genetics through which a person becomes more susceptible to become an addict.
In this research, scientists study the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that leads to human cell development. By mapping the sequence of DNA in addicts, what scientists do is that they isolate the gene sequences that show and specify more risk of becoming an addict to drugs.
The sequences of these genes have specific orders and instructions to produce proteins that carry out most of their bodies’ functions.
The way of functioning of these proteins indicates how susceptible a person could be to become a drug addict.
A main finding about drug addiction genetics was learnt in 2004 by researchers at the institute of Howard Hughes Medical.
A specific protein was classified by researchers—PSD-95— that is linked to drug addiction, retention and learning.
Rats that had lower levels of PSD-95 took more time to learn their way of a maze they were put in; they were also a lot more sensitive to cocaine.
The scientists determined that rats with a normal quantity of PSD-95 were more less likely to be addicted to cocaine and more prospective to learn how they were kept in the maze.
Cocaine leads to a significant increase of dopamine in the neurotransmitter in charge of please or the craving for being high that drug addicts have. PSD-95 is also probable to a part of other addiction types.
According to Marc G. Caron, Ph.D., PSD-95 “is expected to show role in addiction to other drugs—such as nicotine, alcohol, morphine, and heroin—as they all apply effects through dopamine.”
An additional important study innovation was conducted in 2004 by the investigation team that was directed by Dr. Paul Greengard.
His research team found that nearly every drug known for abuse, such as opiates, cocaine, and amphetamines, works by a protein in the brain, known as DARPP-32.
This protein is included as a go-between in the virtual actions of neurotransmitters, which are the brain’s chemical messengers.
The rats did not respond to the abused drugs once the DARPP-32 was removed from their brains.
Research and studies of the role of genes in addiction and abuse of drugs show that the natural variations of proteins that the genes of a person encode can direct towards how susceptible the person is to becoming an addict.
Further studies of genetics factors in addiction can give more and better ways to understand and determine this disease. Along with this, it can provide more advanced methods for therapies to prevent and treat.
How To Prevent Drug Addiction?
The first thing that researchers need to do is overcome the public confusion and distrust regarding genetics testing. This means that the public and physicians need to understand the interaction and connection between addiction and genes.
Prevention is essential to ensure a person does not become a drug addict. Prevention should begin from an early stage; it is necessary to have protective aspects in order at an early stage to ensure a better defense in a person against drug addiction and substance abuse.
For example, if we are offering children a harmless and protective atmosphere to grow in. An environment free from substance abuse and access to compulsory and mandatory education is also a primary prevention method.
The more a person, especially at a younger age, is exposed to drugs, the higher chances he or she has to abuse it, and consequently become a drug addict.
People who have become a drug addict, they should not be hopeless because it can be treated, only if people start looking at it as a disease.
Once people start viewing drug addicts as people carrying a disease, and not as an immoral characteristic, its prevention and treatment will become more accessible.
People with drug addiction require proper attention, care and treatment, instead of being neglected.
They are carrying a disease, that can be caused due to environmental factors or hereditary issues and can only overcome it if they are given the adequate care and treatment.