Nora Volkow Explains (Not Really) Why People Don’t Become Addicted

Editor’s note: Points is happy today to republish our friend Stanton Peele’s recent commentary on the new Cambridge study of sibling pairs and addiction.  Not many of us here at Points are real hardcore quants, but even we were scratching our heads at these findings.  In brief: researchers looked at sibling pairs in which one sibling was an addict and the other was not, and claimed that the disparate responses prove that addiction is an inherited brain dysfunction.  50% addicts + 50% not addicts = 100% brain diseased?  But don’t take our word for it; let Stanton Peele to do the math.

You have heard about the earth-shaking new study proving that addicts inherit a brain dysfunction that causes them to have poor impulse control?

The Cambridge Brains

Published in the most prestigious fundamental research journal in the world, Science, investigators at Cambridge found that siblings, half of whom were drug-abusers/addicts and half of whom were not, shared this trait.  This proved to the researchers that the brain anomaly preceded the drug abuse, and was not a result of it.

Here, let’s turn to Nora Volkow (as Science itself did) for an explanation:

“The inferior frontal gyrus is really one of the main ‘brakes’ of our brain,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study in Science. “[Drug users and their siblings] have less [sic] connections that are linking the rest of brain with the inferior frontal gyrus [and other key regions] that form a network that allows you to inhibit responses.”

Run that by me again.  A study showing a brain dysfunction that somehow causes addiction led in half of siblings to drug abuse and in the other half didn’t?  Doesn’t that make us want to learn what accounted for the siblings with the brain anomaly not becoming addicted?

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