Popular Science

Addictive behavior could trace back to an ancient retrovirus in our DNA

Understanding why some struggle more than others could help us find solutions.
pills and a syringe on a black background

Addiction is much more complex than a few bits of junk DNA—but that doesn't mean they don't play a part.

Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse and tens of thousands die each year, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Though treating addiction has become a vast (and at times abusive) industry, the underlying causes of drug or alcohol dependency—and how to successfully treat these debilitating conditions—are still poorly understood by science. Now, researchers think they’ve found the germ of an answer in our genetic past.

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