Some Teens May Be Pre-Wired for Addiction
Apr 30, 2012
How instinctive is a teen’s desire to snort a line of coke? In the largest functional brain imaging study ever performed, researchers report findings that suggest that poor impulse control is pre-wired in some individuals. Specifically, they say they have identified specific brain networks linked to impulse control and drug addiction—and that these differences exist even before an individual is exposed to drugs or alcohol.
While researchers say we can’t entirely set aside environmental and social factors such as good parenting, peer-pressure, or stress, the findings do suggest that for some, the pull toward risky behavior is stronger than for others. “None of us has a perfect genetic make-up, and risk factors for addiction are etched into our DNA,” says Dr. Paul Thompson, professor of neurology at UCLA. “The risk of addiction is a mix of genetic liability, our life experiences, and bad luck,” he explains. “None of these alone will make us addicts,” he continues, “but in aggregate, they can be overwhelming.”
The findings suggest that there may be an opportunity to identify teens at risk before they indulge. “While identifying those at greatest risk of addiction is a complex process with many different factors involved, identifying brain networks specific to impulse control represents the first step,” says Dr. Robert Whelan, the study’s lead researcher.
Learn More: Prevent Drug Abuse, Signs of Drug Abuse
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