Researchers find two genes associated with heavy drinking

By Staff Writer

While individuals have ultimate control over their behavior, their genetic makeup may be responsible for urges to drink excessively, according to a new study from the University of Maryland. The findings may have implications for the way that drug rehab facilities treat alcohol addiction.

Most current treatments for alcohol addiction focus on treating the symptoms of withdrawal. However, they do not generally address cravings for alcohol. Attacking addiction at the genetic level may eliminate any future cravings.

For the study, researchers bred a group of mice to be susceptible to addiction and trained them to drink alcohol. After trying different methods, the investigators found that silencing two genes, GABA receptor and toll-like receptor 4, significantly decreased the test subjects’ cravings for alcohol.

Furthermore, this method reduced anxiety, which is one of the most common reasons for relapse among recovering alcoholics.

The researchers said that there are already compounds available that are known to stimulate similar genetic areas in humans. They could potentially be retooled and used as treatments for alcohol addiction in drug rehab facilities.