There are those who say that addiction is a choice. But we know that there are significant differences in biology that affect whether or not a person’s use of a drug will lead to dependence. Some individuals use a drug once and instantly become hooked, while others are able to use multiple times and quit with little to no problem. Findings published in a recent article from confirm differences in the brain that contribute to this phenomenon.

Dopamine is a chemical involved in the brain’s reward system: “Disturbances in dopamine signaling appear to contribute to reward processing that biases people to seek drug-like rewards and to develop drug-taking habits.” Researchers found that young adults with a family history of addiction showed differences in dopamine response when compared to those with no family history of addiction. As the Medical XPress article notes, “better understanding this biology may advance our understanding of how people development addiction.” It may also help researchers find better tools to prevent and treat the disease.

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CBAM is a multidisciplinary center that seeks to advance the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, especially in communities with health disparities. As part of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, CBAM works at the intersection of academia and community with a focus on treating addictions and preventing the spread of HIV.

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