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Addiction – Blame it Partly on Genes

Addiction is considered a personal vice. Millions in America are addicted to several harmful substances. The list of these abusive substances is endless and so is the list of ailments associated to them. Medications and therapy techniques are not immune from side effects and pain apart from the cost. Researchers do report that some people are genetically predisposed to drug addiction.

What is meant by genetics? : The human body is made of cells. They are the basic building blocks of our body. Every cell contains the nucleus inside it. Inside the nucleus, there are Chromosomes. The chromosomes are the set of basic instructions which the whole body follows. A gene is a single instruction. 99% of genes in all the humans are the same. It is the 1% difference in genes which makes all of us as unique individuals.

Genes

The Research : According to researchers at the Universities of Virginia and Michigan, there are many genes responsible for different types of addiction. The research was conducted in April 2009. The experts closely studied the chromosomes supposed to be associated with addiction. They mapped 11 chromosomes as the probable locations of genes which cause addictions like alcohol, heroin, nicotine, cocaine, cannabis and opium. There isn’t just one single gene which can be identified as the culprit. It isn’t that easy.

The researchers observed that some chromosomal locations had particular genes piled up over each other. It suggests that these are the instructions which cause addiction to more than one substance. Apart from that, changes in the structure of the instruction sets (the chromosomes), technically called mutations, also cause multiple addictions.

However, if a person is predisposed genetically to become addicted, does that mean they will be a drug addict? The answer is no! Social and environmental factors play a big role in whether somebody starts taking drugs in the first place. If a child’s parents and family do not use street drugs, she is educated about how dangerous they are, and she does not hang around with friends who sell or take them, it is very likely that she will never try them in the first place.  It is important that all children learn how harmful these drugs are and what it means to be addicted to them and how it destroys peoples’ lives.

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