Previous research has established conscientiousness as a predictor of longevity (H. S. Friedman et al., 1993; L. R. Martin & H. S. Friedman, 2000). To better understand this relationship, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of conscientiousness-related traits and the leading behavioral contributors to mortality in the United States (tobacco use, diet and activity patterns, excessive alcohol use, violence, risky sexual behavior, risky driving, suicide, and drug use).
Psychoanalytic theorists concerned with substance abuse suggest that the affect tolerance and affect expression of addicts are impaired due to preverbal influences. However, psychoanalytic contributions have largely been limited to clinical speculations and case study reports. The present study investigated the hypotheses that opiate abusers will demonstrate more impaired affect tolerance and affect expression than cocaine abusers, and that both groups would appear more impaired than a sample of normals.
Impairment of oligodendroglia (OL)-dependent myelination in the central nervous system (CNS) is a remarkable parallel recently identified in major psychiatric disorders and chronic drug abuse. Neuroimaging and neuropathological studies revealed myelin defects and microarray-profiling analysis demonstrated aberrant expression of myelin-related genes in schizophrenia (SZ), bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD) and cocaine addiction. However, the etiology underlying myelin impairment in these clinically distinct subjects remains elusive.
Changes in gene expression in brain reward regions are thought to contribute to the pathogenesis and persistence of drug addiction. Recent studies have begun to focus on the molecular mechanisms by which drugs of abuse and related environmental stimuli, such as drug-associated cues or stress, converge on the genome to alter specific gene programs. Increasing evidence suggests that these stable gene expression changes in neurons are mediated in part by epigenetic mechanisms that alter chromatin structure on specific gene promoters.
Recent discoveries about the effects of drugs of abuse on the brain and the mechanisms of their addictions; new chemical compounds, including immunotherapies; and new actions of available medications are offering many opportunities for the discovery and development of novel medications to treat addictive disorders. Furthermore, advancements in the understanding of the genetic and epigenetic basis of drug addiction and the pharmacogenetics of the safety and/or efficacy of the medications are providing opportunities for more individualized pharmacotherapy approaches.
Exposure to interpersonal violence or abuse affects the physical and emotional well-being of affected individuals. In particular, exposure to trauma during development increases the risk of psychiatric and other medical disorders beyond the risks associated with adult violence exposure. Alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a major mediating pathway of the stress response, contribute to the long-standing effects of early life trauma.
Mammalian Genome: Official Journal of the International Mammalian Genome Society
An increasing body of evidence shows that structural modifications of chromatin, the DNA-protein complex that packages genomic DNA, do not only participate in maintaining cellular memory (e.g., cell fate), but they may also underlie the strengthening and maintenance of synaptic connections required for long-term changes in behavior. Accordingly, epigenetics has become a central topic in several neurobiology fields such as memory, drug addiction, and several psychiatric and mental disorders.
Substance use disorder is a chronic condition of compulsive drug seeking and use that is mediated by stable changes in central reward pathways. Repeated use of abused drugs causes persistent alterations in gene expression responsible for the long-term behavioral and structural changes. Recently, it has been suggested that epigenetic mechanisms are responsible in part for these drug-induced changes in gene expression.
Addiction is a debilitating psychiatric disorder, with a complex aetiology involving the interaction of inherited predispositions and environmental factors. Emerging evidence suggests that epigenetic alterations to the genome, including DNA methylation and histone modifications, are important mechanisms underlying addiction and the neurobiological response to addictive substances. In this review, we introduce the reader to epigenetic mechanisms and describe a potential role for dynamic epigenetic changes in mediating addictive behaviours via long-lasting changes in gene expression.
The abuse of substances such as ethanol, cocaine, amphetamines and heroin is associated with toxic effects on almost every system of the organism. Furthermore, the transition from occasional-recreational use to chronic abuse and addiction is a serious psychiatric disorder with only few chances for effective and definitive treatment since most individuals relapse, even after long periods of abstinence.