Impulsivity and drug addiction
14 June 2007
Certain changes in brain chemistry have been linked with drug addiction in humans.
Additionally, these same impulsive rats were found to be considerably more likely to self-administer cocaine intravenously, thus linking impulsive behaviour with drug addiction vulnerability. This demonstrates that both impulsivity and the reduced numbers of dopamine receptors pre-date drug use, and are therefore not the result of prolonged drug addiction.
The new findings, published in Science, one of the world’s most prestigious journals, may lead to more targeted treatments for drug addiction and other compulsive behaviour disorders, with less side effects than current alternatives. Government reports estimate there are up to half a million individuals addicted to Class A drugs in England and Wales. This new research should help understand why and how people become addicted. Dr Robinson said “The findings may have important ramifications for a range of addictive substances and could help us understand why some individuals are more susceptible to drug addiction.”
The next step is to identify the gene or genes that cause this diminished supply of brain receptors.