Genetic research has identified particular genes that seem to show a predisposition to opioid addiction, and scientists have shown that people who have the genetic variants need different types of treatment than those without the variant.
How Genetic Variants Influence Addiction Treatment
There is not just one gene that makes people more susceptible to addiction, but a number of variants, some of which only appear in one racial group or influence susceptibility for that group. Researchers are continually trying to identify genetic variants that influence addiction in order to be able to treat those with addictions more effectively.
Genetic variants work in several ways. Besides making people more susceptible to addiction, genetics may also make withdrawal symptoms more intense and longer-lasting. Genes can also make people less sensitive to the effects of particular drugs, meaning that they need much higher doses to get the same effect.
Knowing someone’s genetics can help treatment professionals use medications and other treatment techniques more effectively to give the sufferer a better chance of overcoming addiction.
New Genetic Research On Opioid Addiction
Researchers at Yale discovered a gene variant in some people of African descent that helped to identify opioid addicts that needed a higher dose of methadone in order to effectively treat the addiction to opioids. African-Americans with this gene variant have a greater risk of relapse if they take methadone and do not get a higher dose.
When this gene was discovered, its impact on European-Americans was also tested but was not found to produce the same effect. Further study did turn up a gene variant in European-Americans that showed an increased risk of opioid addiction, and this brand new research is being studied further to see how it can improve treatments for those of European descent.
It is important to note that having a gene variant does not mean that addiction is inevitable; environmental factors are a large influence on your life and can overcome a genetic tendency toward addiction in many instances. When opioid use does come into a person’s life with genetic factors, however, it can mean that they will become dependent on opioids more easily or find the dependence harder to break.
Ultimately, the choice to use opioids rests with each person regardless of genetics, but knowing your genetic makeup can help you combat addiction in more effective ways and adjust treatment methods so they will work better for your particular situation.
Genetics is one tool in a growing arsenal of treatment methods for opioid addiction. As more research is done to identify the particular genes that influence opioid and other addictions, science may prove a useful tool for improving treatment methods and helping more people overcome their addictions to opioids and other drugs.
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