Genes for cannabis addiction are identified

Posted on March 31, 2016 by Addiction Editor

cannabisFor what may be the first time, specific genes associated with marijuana addiction have been identified— and some of them are also linked to increased risk for depression and schizophrenia. The findings could help explain why 90% of people with marijuana addictions also suffer from another psychiatric condition or addiction.

“We were surprised to find a genetic risk overlap between cannabis dependence and major depression,” said senior author Yale psychiatrist Joel Gelernter, MD, in a statement.

In the new research, which was published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers studied the genes of nearly 15,000 people from three different groups, who were being followed to try to work out the genetics of various types of addiction. Among these groups, between 18% and 36% had cannabis addiction, depending on what the focus of the research was.

(In general, about 10% of marijuana users tend to become addicted to the drug but the samples included high numbers of addicted people in order to increase their chances of finding related genes.)

One of the genes discovered was linked to risk for both depression and marijuana addiction. The existence of such genes could help explain why previous data has been so conflicting: while some studies find that marijuana smoking increases depression risk, others suggest that it does not. However, if certain genes raise risk for both conditions, this could make it look like marijuana addiction causes depression, when in fact, some people at genetic risk for depression are simply more likely to smoke pot excessively, perhaps in an attempt to self-medicate.

This information will be particularly interesting to parents struggling to know how to handle marijuana use by their teenage offspring. Teens who feel socially disconnected are at the highest risk for all types of addictions and research shows that one of the best ways to prevent teen drug problems is to identify such youth early, before they turn to drugs. To read more click here

Cannabis addiction will be discussed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference 2016, themed Alcohol – Other Drugs – Behavioural Addictions, Prevention, Treatment and Recovery will be held on the Gold Coast from the 19 – 20 May 2016. To view the high quality Conference Program CLICK HERE.

To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.  Early bird registrations close Friday 8th April so be quick to receive a discounted rate.

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