Genetics and Family Environment Influence Drug Abuse

Risk for Drug Abuse in Adopted Children Appears Influenced by Family, Genetics

In a national Swedish adoption study, the risk for drug abuse appears to be increased among adopted children whose biological parents had a history of drug abuse, according to a report published online by Archives of General Psychiatry.

Drug abuse is a worldwide public health problem and much effort has gone into understanding the nature of familial factors, the authors write in their study background.

Kenneth S. Kendler, and colleagues evaluated the association between genetic and environmental factors and the risk of drug abuse. Their study included 18,115 adopted children born in Sweden between 1950 and 1993, as well their biological and adoptive relatives. Researchers relied on national registries and health databases, as well as information about drug abuse from medical, legal or pharmacy records.

The adoptees, whose average age at last available information was 46.2 years, had a 4.5 percent prevalence of drug abuse compared with 2.9 percent in all of Sweden from the same birth years.

The authors suggest the risk for drug abuse among children given up for adoption by biological parents, of whom a least one had drug abuse, was 8.6 percent, which they note was "substantially and significantly elevated over that seen in children given up for adoption when neither biological parent had drug abuse (4.2 percent)."

"Risk for drug abuse in adopted children is increased by a history in biological parents and siblings not only of drug abuse but also of alcoholism, major psychiatric illness and criminal convictions," the authors note. "Risk for drug abuse in adopted children is increased by disruption in the adoptive parent-adopted child bond by death or divorce but also by a range of indices of a disturbed adoptive home environment and deviant peer influences such as parental alcoholism and sibling drug abuse, respectively."

Researchers also suggest a gene-environment interaction in the etiology (the study of the causes of a disease) of drug abuse.

"Adopted children at high genetic risk were more sensitive to the pathogenic effects of adverse family environments than those at low genetic risk. In other words, genetic effects on drug abuse were less potent in low-risk than high-risk environments," the authors conclude.

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Legal Drugs Kill Far More Than Illegal

Legal drugs are killers Legal Drugs Kill Far More Than Illegal, Florida Says

From “Scarface” to “Miami Vice,” Florida’s drug problem has been portrayed as the story of a single narcotic: cocaine. But for Floridians, prescription drugs are increasingly a far more lethal habit.

An analysis of autopsies in 2007 released this week by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that the rate of deaths caused by prescription drugs was three times the rate of deaths caused by all illicit drugs combined.

Law enforcement officials said that the shift toward prescription-drug abuse, which began here about eight years ago, showed no sign of letting up and that the state must do more to control it.

“You have health care providers involved, you have doctor shoppers, and then there are crimes like robbing drug shipments,” said Jeff Beasley, a drug intelligence inspector for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which co-sponsored the study. “There is a multitude of ways to get these drugs, and that’s what makes things complicated.”

Full story at the New York Times

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