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See Inside June/July 2007

Predisposition for Addiction

Many people assume that an addict’s substance abuse is responsible for the damage done to his or her brain. New research shows that some of that “damage” may have been there to begin with.

Chronic drug users have fewer dopamine D2 receptors than nonusers in the reward pathways of their brain, which often makes them less sensitive to natural pleasures such as food and attractive mates. Scientists believe this receptor deficit may reinforce addiction by causing users to seek from drugs what they are unable to get naturally—the “high” caused by a surge of dopamine.

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