The study, conducted by the University of Cambridge and published in the journal ‘Science’, used scans from 50 cocaine addicts and their non-addict siblings to look for differences in brain functioning.
Scientists found that abnormalities found in the drug addicts were mirrored in their non-addict siblings. The findings suggest that a propensity for addiction could be inherited, but the formation of addiction itself could be behavioural.
Dr Paul Keedwell, a consultant psychiatrist at Cardiff University, told the BBC: “Addiction, like most psychiatric disorders, is the product of nature and nurture. we need to follow up people over time to quantify the relative risk of nature versus nurture.”
If two siblings are hardwired for addiction, how can it be that only one goes on to develop one? Dr Karen Ersche, lead researcher during the recent studies, has expressed the need for further investigation. She wants to find out how non-addict siblings manage to overcome addictive behaviour, and how they manage to exercise more control than their addict siblings.
Experts are hopeful that these findings could aide the treatment and prevention of addictions by recognising high-risk individuals and investing more time in helping them to develop better self-control.
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