Could the impulse to abuse drugs be part of your genetics?
Recent research suggests that it might be.
According to a recent NCBI study, researchers have discovered a gene variant that appears to promote impulsive behavior, such as that related to drug abuse.
The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, discovered a variant of the gene for “cAMP-response element modulator (CREM),” a protein that may be linked to impulsive behavior. Researchers were able to show that the gene variant could be a risk factor in the onset of a substance use disorder.
The study involved assessing rats that expressed impulsive behaviors that are like that of ADHD in humans. These rats exhibited impatience for rewards and ran fervently.
The rats also administered heroin to themselves more often when compared with another strain of rats that are not known to be so impulsive. When heroin was not available, the rats appeared to be relentless in their pursuit of more heroin.
When the researchers looked deeper into the DNA of the rats, they discovered that both strains of rats carried different gene variants of CREM. The strain of rats that exhibited more impulsive behavior had lower levels of CREM in the part of the brain that is responsible for reward.
The researchers used the findings from the lab rats to show that the variant in the human CREM gene can have the same effect on humans in terms of impulsive behaviors. This gene variant appears to be located in the same area of the brain in both rats and humans.
One study showed that adolescents with ADHD who happened to carry this particular gene variant displayed more hyperactive behaviors compared with those who did not have this variant.
The researchers determined that this gene variant increases the risk of substance misuse associated with impulsivity.
How Can This Study Relate to Addiction Treatment?
Knowing that a person who experiences a substance use disorder may carry this gene variant can help medical professionals involved in the treatment of addiction establish a more specialized and customized treatment plan.
Understanding the relationship between impulsivity and the risk of addiction can help addiction specialists find new and better ways to treat and even prevent a substance use disorder.
Addiction is a disease. It is important to seek out the appropriate services and programs that are specialized in dealing with a substance use disorder. There are many effective programs and treatment centers available that are well equipped to help people develop the tools needed to achieve and maintain long-term recovery.