A tiny genetic mutation can put people at a higher risk for alcohol or drug addiction, say researchers.
COMT is the name of a gene that helps the body manage dopamine, a chemical that is released when a person drinks alcohol or takes a drug like amphetamine.
The research by William R Lovallo from the University of Oklahoma's College of Medicine focused on a small mutation of COMT.
People with this mutation of the COMT gene are more vulnerable to the effects of stress in their early lives.
That heightened vulnerability often leads to consumption of alcohol and drugs younger than age 15, which is one of the biggest independent predictors of addiction, said the study published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.