Question: I know that alcoholism runs in families. Four people in my family are alcoholic: my father, deceased from cirrhosis, two brothers and myself. Is addiction to cocaine inherited?
Answer: Yes, the risk of cocaine addiction is inherited. Researchers studied 1,934 twins ranging in age from 22 to 62.
The twin pairs were either identical or fraternal.
The study found that concordance rates — both twins using, abusing or being dependent on drugs — were higher for identical twins than for fraternal twins.
For cocaine use, concordance was 54 percent in identical twins and 42 percent in fraternal twins; for abuse, 47 percent in identical twins and 8 percent in fraternal twins; and for dependence, 35 percent in identical twins and 0 percent in fraternal twins.
The study found the inherited risk exists for any drug. It has long been known that when one identical twin develops alcoholism, the other twin will develop alcoholism at usually the same time even though separated for many years.
What one identical twin experiences, as far as drugs are concerned, the other twin will likely also.
Dr. James West
JUNE 17, 2010