Heroin is Genetic
Many people are going to balk at this statement. “How can heroin be genetic?” Well, it is true. Let us explain….Research shows that addiction is very genetic. It certainly gets passed down from generation to generation and this is a fact. Knowing this, we can help to stop the spread of addiction. By making people aware of their genetic history, we can inform them about how vulnerable they are to opioid addiction (and their children).
We must be proactive in encouraging people (and their children) to make an effort to research and document their genetic history. Do you have a parent who was/is an addict? Are both your parents addicts? Do you have any aunts or uncles who are addicts? It is an unfavorable topic to bring up, but how else can we target the addiction problem and stop this epidemic?
Heroin Addiction Research
Researchers have found that some heroin users may be finding it harder to quit because they have a “pleasure-seeking gene”.
Dr. Ernest Noble, a psychiatrist at Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital at the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues found that some heroin users may have a genetic variation that hinders them from quitting. Such addicts may need alternative treatments, such as taking small, sustained doses of the drug in order to kick the habit. These patients had family members with the same gene and often addiction was passed down from a parent(s).
Researchers made their conclusion after studying patients who entered rehab for heroin addiction. The researchers discovered that the heroin addicts who failed the program were four times more likely to have the gene called DRD2.
“Heroin users who have this genetic variation may suffer from a more virulent form of the addiction that is less amenable to the standard course of treatment,” said Noble. “I don’t think these patients can get off drugs. If they don’t use heroin, they’ll use other things.”
Heroin users with this DRD2 gene, which prevents them from kicking the habit, may need to try alternative treatments — even including taking small sustained doses of the drug. The gene is present in about 30 percent of the population, and may predict a tendency toward addiction in general. 95 Million people equals 30% of the population. Interestingly, todays statistics on heroin addiction line up with this figure.
If you have a certain form of this gene, you are more susceptible to substance abuse problems. And, just being aware of this can be ‘half the battle’ against opioid addiction.
The study above is just one study out of many that prove heroin and opioid addiction is genetic.
Those who have this variation of the gene (DRD2) have fewer receptors for the pleasure-giving brain chemical dopamine, researchers say. These people may need to more aggressively pursue activities that will stimulate their few receptors to pleasure levels equal to others. These people don’t feel normal pleasure in life. The only time they feel like they’re living is when they take these substances. People need to be aware of this and take additional steps for alternative treatments.
The scientific evidence about the genetics of heroin/opioid addiction opens a doorway into the development of better treatments. We must find better treatments for Heroin addicts and implement them into the rehabilitation process from the beginning to the end. This will give new options and tools to addicts who want to end their dependency on heroin and opioids.
Most importantly, through genetic awareness we can prevent more young people from becoming heroin addicts if they are taught about their genetic history. We must make an effort to encourage schools and parents to involve their kids in researching their own family history of addiction and teaching them about the vulnerabilities of heroin and opioids.