Family

Scientists just made a wild discovery: Addiction has genetic markers.

A cure for addiction might be found using, of all things, cocaine and rats.

Scientists just made a wild discovery: Addiction has genetic markers.

Any elementary schooler who's completed a D.A.R.E. program can tell you about the dangers of addiction.

Remember this? Yep. Me too. Photo via U.S. Navy/Wikimedia Commons.


Far more difficult to explain, however, is how addiction can be passed from generation to generation.

We sometimes use labels like "addictive personality" for people who are born with what seems like a tendency toward addiction ... but do we know exactly which parts of the brain these addictive tendencies stem from? And if we did, would we then be able to prevent addiction before it ever became an issue?

Thanks to an all-star team of researchers, the answer to both of these questions seems to be "yes."

Researchers think we might be able to prevent addiction before it starts.

How did they come to this conclusion? With rats. Cocaine-addicted rats.

Photo via iStock.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Alabama at Birmingham published a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal in April 2016, claiming that they found certain genetic differences in rats who are susceptible to addiction.

Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.

According to the study's lead author, Shelly B. Flagel, addiction can be linked to two basic genes: fibroblast growth factor and dopamine D2 receptor.

“If [the rats] have certain low versus high levels of one of these molecules, then they can be a candidate for treatment to prevent addiction in the first place. Or, if we know that they’re an addict, to prevent relapse," said Flagel to Inverse.

As dreadful as it may sound, humans and rats are almost identical on a genetic level.

Photo via iStock.

So even though this link was only found in rats, there's a strong chance that the link could be present in humans too.

The Human Genome Project explains that "the rat genome contains about the same number of genes as the human genome ... and almost all human genes known to be associated with diseases have counterparts in the rat genome and appear highly conserved through mammalian evolution, confirming that the rat is an excellent model for many areas of medical research."

Once we know for sure what these "addiction genes" look like in rats, eventually we might be able to identify those genes in humans.

Someday, we might even be able to identify these "addiction precursors" in humans with something as simple as a blood or saliva test.

Basically, this research on cocaine-addicted rats could help us prevent addiction in humans before it becomes an issue.

“That’s one benefit of this study — that we were able to look at essentially genetically similar animals, and say, this is what their brains look like before they’ve been exposed to cocaine, and then this is what they look like after they’ve gone through this prolonged self-administration paradigm and develop or exhibit these addiction-like behaviors,” said Flagel.

“It’s just providing further evidence that this is clearly a key molecule."

So in the fight to stop addiction, it seems that a useful resource is...

GIF via "Review."

Oh, the irony. Science is truly an amazing, confusing, wonderful thing.

via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

This story was originally published on The Mighty.

Most people imagine depression equals “really sad,” and unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.

Keep Reading Show less
via Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr and Valley of the Dogs / Instagram

Ryan Fischer, 30, was shot last night in West Hollywood, California while walking three of Oscar- and Grammy-winner Lady Gaga's dogs. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and according to The New York Post is, "thankfully recovering well."

After the shooting, the suspects stole two of Gaga's French Bulldogs Gustavo and Koji. A third bulldog belonging to the singer, Miss Asia, ran away from the scene and was later recovered by law enforcement.

Steve, a friend of the victim, told FOX 11 that Fisher was passionate about the dogs.

Keep Reading Show less