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Nora Volkow, M.D. - Brain & Behavior Research Expert on Addiction
January 29, 2016

The short answer is no, at least not yet. However, if you recognize behavioral patterns or personality traits [in yourself] that hint at increased risk for substance use, there are things you can actually do to contain and counteract that risk, even if you don’t know exactly where that risk comes from. In most cases, this vulnerability to drug use stems in part from some deficit deep inside the dopamine circuits that control things like reward, attention, emotion, motivation, and purpose. I think the secret to prevention is to find, as early as possible, the things in life that boost dopamine in the brain, but, unlike drugs, do so naturally. In other words, find your passion (whatever that might be) and run with it. In that way you’ll be recruiting the idiosyncrasies of any liability genes toward a positive goal and you’ll most likely be OK. Also, it could be helpful to think that your father left you not only genes but also life lessons that can be as, if not more, valuable than bits and pieces of DNA.

Nora Volkow, M.D.
Scientific Council Member
National Institute of Drug Abuse & National Institutes of Health

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