The role of medicine is to keep improving so everyone can lead happier and healthier lives. Whatever choices you make in life or whatever lifestyle you choose to lead shouldn’t hamper your ability to have quality care that’s catered to you. One way medicine moves away from a one-size-fits-all solution to focused, patient-oriented treatment is through genetics. Our genes play a big role in our ability to stay healthy. In particular, it’s long been understood that vulnerability to addictive habits stems from hereditary traits—the basics of how genetics influence drug addiction can now be perceived on a molecular level. Various genetic factors may act as helpful indicators to help prevent addiction before it begins.
What Is the Role of Addiction in Genetics?
Drug addiction is a complicated study. People become addicted to different drugs for different reasons. Many cases stem from environmental factors, in which an individual was in a situation where they could first experiment with a chemical. With repeat use due to interest or circumstances, addiction can happen to anyone.
However, many people have unique genetic traits that impact their ability to resist a chemical once they’ve interacted with it a few times. Therefore, through observation of an individual’s genetic factors, it’s possible to predict the long-term ramifications of their choices.
How Genetic Advances Help Today
While there is still more information to be discovered, researchers have made real headway in determining factors of addiction. Unsurprisingly, the basics of how genetics influence drug addiction revolves around the dopamine receptors in the brain. As drugs typically impact the dopamine receptors, it makes perfect sense. Individuals with a lower-than-normal count of dopamine receptors generally have a harder time with drugs and are more likely to fall into an addiction.
Armed with this knowledge, doctors can better gear treatment and medical advice based on the unique needs of everyone. For instance, someone with a lower dopamine receptor count may benefit from non-chemical therapy methods when seeking medical treatment or alleviating various symptoms. Alternatively, someone already struggling with addiction may benefit from more thorough holistic care than the average individual.