Scientists have discovered structural abnormalities in the brains of drug addicts and their non-addicted siblings, a finding that suggests there may be an inherited vulnerability to addiction, and that behavioral therapies could help addicts recover.
Substance abuse is known to run in families, according to experts, who say that having an addicted family member increases a person’s risk of addiction by eight to ten percent above the general population.
Researchers have yet to identify an addiction gene. But Karen Esche at the University of Cambridge in Britain says the brain abnormalities found in addicts and their non-addicted siblings suggest these congenital differences might be to blame for the increased vulnerability to drug abuse.
“This may suggest that some of the impairments that we see in the drug users are not caused by the drugs or [do not] predispose them to addiction,” Esche says.