Does Addiction Have a Genetic Basis? This New Study Says So
Does Addiction Have a Genetic Basis? This New Study Says So

Young adults at risk of developing problems with addiction show key differences in an important region of the brain, according to a University of Cambridge study.

The study adds further evidence to support the idea that an individual’s biological makeup plays a significant role in whether or not they develop an addictive disorder.

Adolescence and young adulthood is an important time in a person’s development and when addictions most commonly form.

Watch Founder of Recovering Man Richard Joy explain how traumatic experiences led him to develop addictions and cease growing as a person below:

As part of the study, 99 young adults aged 16 to 26 carried out a computer-based measure of impulsivity.

The researchers also scanned the volunteers’ brains using a sequence that is sensitive to myelin content.

Myelin is a protein-rich sheath that coats the axis of a nerve cell, analogous to the plastic coating that surrounds electrical wiring, and is essential to fast nerve conduction in the brain and body.

The team found that those young adults who displayed higher measures of behavioural impulsivity also had lower levels of myelin in the putamen.

This work builds on similar findings in rodent models of impulsivity from scientists at Cambridge and elsewhere.

Dr Camilla Nord of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, lead author on the study, said: “People who show heightened impulsivity are more likely to experience a number of mental health issues, including substance and behavioural addictions, eating disorders, and ADHD.”

The findings echo why those at risk need to prize self-discipline above hedonistic and impulsive behaviour.

5 thoughts on “Does Addiction Have a Genetic Basis? This New Study Says So

    • While it seems likely there is a genetic foundation, I’m not personally convinced the story ends there. I’m very open to academic research on the issue, however, I think there are also cultural, personal and spiritual factors which are paramount too.

      • Richard, I do not doubt that it helps to know ourselves. I have spent many years doing that. But at the end of the day it is only chemicals which have given ne any lasting relief. Perhaps some people can talk or think their way into a better place. I can not.

      • Well, we are all different, and ‘addiction’ is such a catch-all term it sometimes sinks into relative meaninglessness. I have a family member who works in autism and it’s a similar situation there, the term describes behaviour from the mildest to the most severe, and by conceptualising it under one simple term narrows the scope of treatment, where one individual may require quite different conditions than another.

  1. Hmmm well addiction is certainly a danger for me. Or was in the past. I gave up alcohol and nicotine 20 years ago…. I found I was self medicating over many years. What a foolish way to try to treat depression!

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