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Is Cocaine Addiction Hereditary?
Environmental factors such as stress and peer pressure are likely the reason that most people try cocaine for the first time. Although having a family member who uses cocaine may be one of those environmental factors, there is little evidence that there is an inherited component that will make someone use the drug initially. However, there is evidence of an inherited increase in the risk of addiction once an individual begins using cocaine.
Studies have found that the risk of addiction is greater when an individual has a family history of addiction. Also, studies of identical twins have suggested that the increased risk has a genetic component. This is true of addiction to many different substances, but cocaine is among the drugs in which the increased risk is greatest.
The exact genes that cause the increased risk have not been determined, and hundreds of different gene variations could be to blame. These genes may affect the way that nerve cells communicate with each other in the brain, or they may affect the brain’s response to neurotransmitter chemicals.
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