According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse two new studies show that the risk of opioid abuse and addiction may be lowered in individuals who have certain gene variants, and these results could help in the development of customized addiction treatment and pain management that is more effective in the near future. The first study involved a μ-opioid receptor, or OPRM1, gene variant which is rare that actually lowers the risk of cocaine addiction and heroin addiction. The second study involved the same μ-opioid receptor but also looked at the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase, and the results showed that newborns who had these variants had less severe neonatal abstinence syndrome after being exposed to buprenorphine or methadone in utero. Both studies show promise for genetic addiction treatment and personalized pain management in the future.
Opioid abuse is a serious problem in the USA, Canada, and many other countries. Individuals who have different gene variants may be more or less likely to develop a dependence or addiction on opioid drugs, and this could lead to treatment breakthroughs that help stop the opioid abuse epidemic that is occurring. These drugs are used to treat pain but in many people they are highly addictive, and predicting who will develop drug abuse issues and who will not is impossible today. This may not be the case in the near future as more addiction studies are performed on DNA and genetic material. If you or someone you love has a problem with prescription pain medication there is help available. Substance abuse treatment can be very effective when the right treatment methods and programs are used.