Scientists have discovered that addictions may be hereditary. A team from Britain’s University of Cambridge found that siblings of drug addicts share the same brain abnormalities as their drug-using brothers and sisters. The research team said these abnormal brain structures are linked to poor self-control and drug dependence. The researchers suggest that addiction is in some ways a “disorder of the brain”. This may provide important new ways into helping people with problems of self-control when it comes to addictions. The study sought to find out if drugs changed the “wiring” of the brain or whether the brains of drug addicts were wired differently from birth.
Lead researcher Dr Karen Ersche told the BBC: “It has long been known that not everyone who takes drugs becomes addicted.” She continued: “It shows that drug addiction is not a choice of lifestyle, it is a disorder of the brain and we need to recognise this. These brothers and sisters who don't have addiction problems, what they can tell us is how they overcome these problems, how they manage self-control in their daily life.” Dr Ersche and her colleagues studied 50 pairs of siblings — one with a history of drug addiction and one with no experience of taking drugs. She compared these with 50 healthy people. She concluded: “We need to find out how these non-addicted siblings were able to resist using drugs.”