How Is Addiction Connected to Genetics and Brain Chemistry?

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People’s responses to drugs and other substances can vary drastically. A pill can work for you but may severely impact your friend and have zero effects on another. This occurrence is due to gene differences and brain chemistry functionality. This discovery can help addiction treatment centers develop new response strategies to addiction cases. Here is how addiction connects genetics and brain chemistry:

The Presence of the Inherited Addiction Gene

Your genes can increase your addiction risks. Some people are likely to suffer addiction to certain substances due to their inherited genetic disposition. When you come from a family with an addiction problem, your chance of becoming an addict can be higher than someone who doesn’t have family members who struggle with addiction.

An addiction gene can run in your family tree, meaning a parent can pass it to their kids. It may affect some members and not others. When addressing this problem, addiction treatment centers study a family’s history to determine the possibility of an inherited addiction gene.

The Effects of Drugs on Neurotransmitters

The neurotransmitter system is the communication panel in your brain. It delivers signals between the neurons in your brain. Drugs and substances or addictive habits target these chemical messengers. They can stimulate the production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in your brain. Your brain may reinforce their effects by desiring a repeat of drug use and addictive behavior. Some substances and drugs trigger the production of feel-good hormones that influence you to continue using them.

The Role of Epigenetics

Humans undergo an epigenetic process when exposed to various environments, trauma, or drugs. Epigenetics involves the modification of genes without impact to your DNA but impacting their expression. When you use particular substances and drugs, your genes can undergo an epigenetic process and leave a mark on your DNA. You can pass the altered DNA to your children, increasing their risks of falling into addiction.

Some drugs, such as cocaine, can also trigger high production of addiction-related proteins, leading to drug-seeking habits in humans. Other drugs affect histones which modify your gene expression, increasing vulnerability to addiction. Understanding the possibility of an epigenetic process can help addiction treatment centers to develop customized treatment plans for each patient in their facilities.

The Changes in the Neural Reward Circuit

Every human brain has a reward circuit responsible for its behavior. The circuit features the dopamine reward system that controls how you respond to natural rewards and the ability to detect rewarding stimuli. This aspect determines your drive and motivation for natural rewards such as social interactions, food, and sex. It also reminds the brain to record memories of particular rewarding experiences and repeat them in the future.

Some drugs and substances can change your brain’s reward circuit.  They rewire its dopamine system and how it rewards pleasure. Your brain shifts from the natural rewarding response and learns to associate the drug or substance with pleasure, inspiring you to continue using higher doses regularly. The craving does not stop, unlike other natural rewards. The user loses pleasure from the drug or substance but continues to use it uncontrollably to regain the lost feeling, leading to addiction.

Find Reliable Addiction Treatment Centers

Your genetic foundations can make you susceptible to addiction. Exposure to addictive behavior and drugs can also contribute to your possibility of becoming an addict. If you are struggling with addiction, you can seek help from addiction treatment centers that understand its connection to brain chemistry and genetics. Such centers can help you access customized treatment that can potentially speed up your recovery and reduce relapse cases.


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