People who have a sensation-seeking personality trait may be more likely to develop a cocaine addiction , according to a Rutgers study .
That would partly explain that, although many people try illicit drugs such as cocaine or heroin, only a small proportion develop an addiction .
The genetic basis of addiction (in rats)
The findings, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, shed light on what predisposes people to addiction and may help with the detection and treatment of substance use. According to lead author Morgan James , a fellow at the Rutgers Brain Health Institute and an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical:
The interaction found between sensation seeking traits and the experience of using drugs shows that the predisposition to addiction has a genetic basis and that it interacts with environmental factors such as drug use patterns. The sensation-seeking trait predicted the likelihood of rats showing increased drug motivation when we gave them the opportunity to use cocaine.
The laboratory study found that high-sensation seeking rats, those with a strong desire for new experiences and a willingness to take risks to be stimulated, were more likely to develop behavior that mirrored human addiction . The findings suggest that high-sensation seekers are at higher risk of losing control over their drug use, making them more vulnerable to drug addiction.
A primary goal of addiction research is to identify behavioral biomarkers that predict vulnerability to addiction, so futures can build on these findings to determine what is different in the brains of high-sensation seekers to see what predisposes them to. The addiction.