If you and your loved ones have struggled with addiction together, you may have heard the expression, “addiction must run in your family.” But how much influence do genetics actually have on addictive behaviors, and is there any way to predict whether future generations of family members will also suffer from addiction challenges?
Taking a Deeper Look
A new research study from researchers in New Jersey is trying to answer those questions with a unique approach. They are studying brain and blood samples from people who have died from overdoses of opioid drugs, trying to determine if there is a “clue” to addictive behavior hidden in their blood or brains. They could then use those identifiable traits to help others who are currently suffering from addiction challenges and to predict whether someone is likely to become addicted to opioid drugs.
Is Addiction in our DNA?
What might be most exciting about this research is the opportunity to identify a possible genetic influence on addiction, that is, whether a person’s DNA plays a role in whether they are likely to become addicted or not. This could eventually help others understand their risk of developing addictive behaviors during their lifetime. It could also help doctors determine the appropriate medicines to use for issues like pain relief, for example, by helping them avoid highly addictive painkillers for certain patients.
While this might seem like an obvious approach to studying addiction, the New Jersey study is actually the first time a research study has created a “bank” of brain and blood samples from overdose victims. The hope is that researchers from other institutions nationwide will use their samples for their own research, helping expand the range of knowledge about the biology of addiction.
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