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Internet (and Nicotine) Addiction are in the Genes

Update Date: Aug 29, 2012 12:09 PM EDT

Internet addiction is no joke, folks and neither is the predisposition for addiction. While some additions (i.e. heroin, alcohol, cigarettes) are given more weight then others ( i.e. sex and Internet addictions) the lesser evils are no less real. 

Researchers from the University of Bonn and ZI Mannheim in Germany find that people who claim they are addicted to the Internet have molecular variants that prove they are in fact hooked.

The study explains in a news release that Internet addiction is no figment of the imagination, with researchers and therapists recognizing the seriousness of the disorder:

Over the past years, the Bonn researchers have interviewed a total of 843 people about their Internet habits. An analysis of the questionnaires shows that 132 men and women in this group exhibit problematic behavior in how they handle the online medium; all their thoughts revolve around the Internet during the day, and they feel their wellbeing is severely impacted if they have to go without it.

Upon closer study, all 132 subjects showed to carry a gene variant that plays a similar role in nicotine addiction.

"What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behavior," explains Dr. Christian Montag from the Department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn who is lead author of the study.

"It seems that this connection is not only essential for nicotine addiction, but also for Internet addiction," reports the Bonn psychologist," he adds.

The genetic mutation of gene CHRNA4 prompts subjects to exhibit abnormal and obsessive behavior when confronted with their respective addictions. What's more, researchers found that the variant occurs more in men than in women. However numerous psychological surveys reveal that men are much more prone to Internet porn---.I mean addiction---than women.

Dr. Montag qualifies that while more subjects are needed to further analyze the findings, "current data already shows that there are clear indications for genetic causes of Internet addiction."

He added that with the mutation, a biological marker had been found that would allow to characterize online addiction from a neuro-scientific angle. "If such connections are better understood, this will also result in important indications for better therapies."

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