Dopamine deficiency linked to obesity, drug addiction

By Staff Writer

Research has shown genetic links to addictions, such as alcoholism, but a 2001 study found that there may a connection between drug dependency and obesity. Rehabilitation facilities can help individuals recover from addiction, but identifying these factors ahead of time has helped experts further understand substance abuse.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse study has shed light on obesity and addiction in individuals who have no traces of drug abuse in their families, according to North Jersey, a New Jersey news site. Researchers found that reduced dopamine activity in the brain can contribute both obesity and substance abuse over time.

"Individuals with this deficiency may need to overeat to get feelings of gratification from food," study authors wrote, according to the news source. "It may be linked to a whole range of compulsive behaviors."

Experts suggest that the deficiency has the potential to make individuals more vulnerable to drug dependency. Cocaine and heroin are especially easy for people to become addicted to when they have this genetic predisposition.

In 2006, more than 20 million Americans aged 12 or older admitted to using illicit drugs, according to Drug Addiction Support, a substance abuse resource site. Rehabilitation facilities can help individuals manage addiction, whether or not they have the dopamine deficiency.