Drug addiction remains a substantial health issue with limited treatment options currently available. Despite considerable advances in the understanding of human genetic architecture, the genetic underpinning of complex disorders remains elusive. On the basis of our current understanding of neurobiology, numerous candidate genes have been implicated in the etiology and response to treatment for different addictions. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have also identified novel targets. However, replication of these studies is often lacking, and this complicates interpretation. The situation is expected to improve as issues such as phenotypic characterization, the apparent "missing heritability," the identification of functional variants, and possible gene-environment (G × E) interactions are addressed. In addition, there is growing evidence that genetic information can be useful in refining the choice of addiction treatment. As genetic testing becomes more common in the practice of medicine, a variety of ethical and practical challenges, some of which are unique to drug addiction, will also need to be considered.
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