Neuroscientists and psychologists have known for decades that addiction runs in families. Cutting-edge research is now illuminating the precise brain mechanisms responsible for addiction potential. The reward center of the brain plays a key role in addiction and it’s no surprise that the latest research finds that dopamine- a key chemical in pleasure and addiction- responds differently in family members of people who struggle with addiction. Fortunately, new treatments can alter the brain’s reward center response to specific substances thus preventing future addiction or treating current addiction (Amy Serin, PhD).
In an article entitled “People with Family History of Alcoholism Release More Dopamine in Expectation of Alcohol” reported by Neuroscience News, “People who have a family history of alcohol use disorder release more dopamine in the ventral striatum as a response to the expectation of receiving an alcoholic drink than those without a family history of alcoholism.”, Lawrence Kegeles, MD, PhD, of Columbia University shares, “This exaggerated reward center stimulation by expectation of alcohol may put the [individuals with family history] at greater risk of alcohol use disorder, and could be a risk factor in itself.”