Alcohol And Drug Habit May Be In Genes
Heavy alcohol and drug use may be inherited from our parents, new research shows. Although family and social experiences may determine whether teenagers try cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, their genes probably determine whether they become heavy users, the study suggests.
Cardiff University researchers interviewed more than 1,200 sets of identical and non-identical twins aged 11-19 in Wales and Manchester about their alcohol and drug use.
They found that 86% of them had drunk alcohol and of these one third reported binge drinking, drunkenness or getting into situations they later regretted because of alcohol.
Nearly six in 10 had tried cigarettes and of those one quarter smoked heavily. Just under a quarter had tried marijuana and of these 62% had used it less than six times.
The Cardiff researchers, who worked with other teams in the United States and Oxford, found a strong link between starting to smoke tobacco or marijuana and going on to heavy use.
The research, in the international journal Addiction, said teenagers were more likely to go on to heavy substance use if they had inherited a tendency to addiction. Lead researcher Dr Marianne vanden Bree from the university’s department of psychological medicine, said,
“Biological processes in the brain and body may be more important in the progress towards addiction. The strong link between starting smoking and going on to heavier use suggests that public health strategies should concentrate on stopping teenagers from experimenting with cigarettes in the first place.
Last night the Wales-based drug and alcohol service Drugaid said more work needed to be done to help treat addictions. Manager David Chugg said, “Saying the problem is genetic can also lead people to provide an excuse, but then, it is a valid excuse. We have to remember, people are individuals, you can’t generalise.”