04 May Does Brain Shape Determine Your Likelihood for Developing an Addiction?
The use of illegal drugs is an interesting phenomenon in that some individuals quickly develop an addiction, while others can use on a recreational basis without ever developing problems with cravings, withdrawal or other addiction symptoms.
A New York Times report recently focused on this phenomenon in the use of cocaine, examining a new study that suggests the reason may be tied to the shape of the brain. Conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge, the study involved an evaluation of brain scans and personality tests.
Sporadic cocaine users tend to have a larger frontal lobe, a region associated with self-control, while cocaine addicts are more likely to have small frontal lobes, according to the study, which was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
While both the addict and the non-addict shared the tendency to take risks, those with an increase in gray matter may possess a greater ability to resist addictive behaviors through greater self-control and make decisions that are more advantageous for them. In other words, the non-addict user can take it or leave it.
The key to the study outcome is the belief among the researchers that the brain shape differences existed before the drug use and were not a result of it. This suggests that the trend among researchers to believe that addiction has more to do with biological makeup than character is accurate.
While this belief does throw a wrench into the “Just Say No” theory that abstinence is the key to warding off addiction, there is still something to be said for staying away from cocaine altogether. Regardless of the individual’s risk for developing an addiction, the drug is still known to cause significant damage and even death, suggesting its use is never safe.
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