People who drink alcohol more than once a week are at higher risk of internet addiction, study finds


If you enjoy a few glasses of wine more than once a week, a study has found that you are more likely to have an addictive personality.

This means that it would be easier for you to get hooked on things like the internet, video games or exercise than someone who doesn’t drink alcohol as regularly.

Researchers from Semmelweis University in Hungary identified several genes that each trigger multiple addictive behaviours, including substance use.

Their findings not only suggest that different addictions are related, but also that some of us are more susceptible to them because of our genetic makeup.

The study showed that the ‘rs759364 A’ allele of the FOXN3 gene was associated with problematic gaming behaviours, problematic internet use and alcohol consumption frequency of six or more times a month (stock image)

WHICH GENES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH ADDICTIONS? 

Gene

FOXN3

                                                                                 

DRD2/ ANKK1

GDNF 

 

Variant

rs759364 A 

                              rs759364 G 

rs1800497 A

rs1549250 and rs2973033

Addiction

Alcohol,gaming, internet

Exercise        

Cannabis

            Lifetime use of drugs other than cannabis 

 

Many studies have linked alcohol, drug and gambling addictions to genetics, and have sought to identify the variants responsible for the susceptibility. 

However, the authors of the new study say that each of these link one specific type of addiction to genetic variants.

Dr Csaba Barta said: ‘It has been previously proven that a strong genetic influence exists in case of different addictions. 

‘Heritability, which is the measure of genetic contribution to a trait, is estimated to be between 50 and 70 per cent for addictions, and the rest is environmental effects.

‘However, the specific genetic variants and their neurobiological roles in addiction are not so well known.’

Their work, published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, investigates genetic associations for a large variety of substance and non-substance addictions.

The researchers recruited over 3,000 adults from high schools, colleges and universities in Hungary to provide a DNA sample and fill out a questionnaire.

Questions probed their alcohol consumption, smoking habits and drug use, as well as engagement with potentially addictive activities that don’t involve substances.

These included gaming, gambling, use of social media, exercising, hair pulling and eating.

The data collected has already been used as part of other published studies which showed associations between the addictions, but not linked them to specific genes.

Carriers of the 'rs759364 G' allele of the FOXN3 gene were found to be more prone to exercise addiction (stock image)

Carriers of the ‘rs759364 G’ allele of the FOXN3 gene were found to be more prone to exercise addiction (stock image)

It has also indicated that lifetime use of different kinds of drugs is more prevalent in men, but women were more prone to use sedatives.

Men were also more susceptible to gambling addiction, while women were more affected by eating disorders and excessive social media use.

For this study, the researchers analysed the data to see if there were any links between addictions highlighted through the questionnaires and 32 specific variants in the participants’ DNA. 

Dr Barta said: ‘We found 29 nominally significant associations in the current study, and nine of those remained significant after statistical correction for multiple testing.’ 

PERCENTAGE OF STUDY PARTICIPANTS WHO EXHIBITED POTENTIALLY ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE USE AND SPECIFIC GENE VARIANTS
Gene Allele Nicotine Alcohol Cannabis Other Drugs
Non-Use (n = 3588) Use (n = 1026) Non-Use (n = 3538) Use (n = 440) Non-Use (n = 4204) Use (n = 160) Non-Use (n = 4088) Ever Use (n = 1246)
FOXN3 rs759364 A 30.80% 26.60% 30.00% 37.50% 30.40% 33.60% 30.10% 32.60%
G 69.20% 73.40% 70.00% 62.50% 69.60% 66.40% 69.90% 67.40%
GDNF rs1549250 C 41.20% 45.10% 40.80% 44.70% 41.00% 44.00% 40.90% 46.00%
A 58.80% 54.90% 59.20% 55.30% 59.00% 56.00% 59.10% 54.00%
T 84.50% 84.20% 84.60% 81.70% 84.70% 79.90% 84.40% 83.40%
GDNF rs2973033 C 27.80% 31.40% 27.60% 32.20% 27.70% 32.60% 27.30% 31.50%
T 72.20% 68.60% 72.40% 67.80% 72.30% 67.40% 72.70% 68.50%
ANKK1 rs1800497 A 18.80% 19.10% 19.50% 20.40% 18.60% 27.10% 18.80% 20.50%

Some of these variants were seen to predispose the carrier to multiple addictions, both substance and non-substance related.

For example, the gene FOXN3 can appear in two other forms or ‘alleles’; rs759364 A and rs759364 G.

The study showed that the ‘A’ allele was associated with problematic gaming behaviours, problematic internet use and alcohol consumption frequency of six or more times a month.

Carriers of the ‘G’ allele, on the other hand, were found to be more prone to exercise addiction.

The data also revealed associations between the allele rs1800497 A – a form of the DRD2/ANKK1 gene – and cannabis use.

Furthermore, links were discovered between the rs1549250 and rs2973033 variants of the GDNF gene and the lifetime use of drugs other than cannabis.

Professor Marc N. Potenza from Yale University School of Medicine said: ‘The study provides support that some genetic factors may be responsible for the overlap we observed previously.’ 

Future work from the team will involve searching for more subtle effects the variants have on alcohol use and smoking habits.

Dr. Zsolt Demetrovics, a psychology professor at Eötvös Loránd University, added: ‘These findings can contribute to the scientific knowledge on addictions which affects millions of people worldwide. 

‘It could bring us closer to understanding the overlap between the vulnerability of different types of potentially addictive behaviours.

‘For example, being vulnerable to problematic alcohol use might also pose an increased risk for gambling, video game use or working addiction. 

‘This could be a relevant consideration also when planning treatment interventions.’ 

Scientists reveal key signs of TikTok addiction – and lonely women are most likely to be affected 

With more than one billion people using the app each month, TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms since launching in 2016.

But a new study has highlighted how some people are becoming addicted to the app – and claims lonely women are the most likely to become dependent.

Researchers from the University of Trinidad and Tobago analysed 173 TikTok users to identify the most definitive signs of addiction to the app.

These were:

  • User becoming nervous
  • User becoming irritable
  • User becoming anxious
  • Showing strong feelings of sadness when deprived of access to the app

Read more here 

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