Poor development of oxytocin hormone in early childhood could be the reason for addictive behavior to alcohol or drugs later on in life, a new study conducted by researchers at University of Adelaide reveals.
The researchers analyzed a number of studies that looked into the link between oxytocin and addiction and found that some of the studies revealed presence of certain risk factors for addiction in children as young as four years old.
The researchers said that this was because oxytocin was fully developed by the time a child turns three years of age and ensuring that the hormone develops properly could reduce the pleasure of drugs and the feeling of stress. The study has been published in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior.
"You can't change the genes you're born with, but environmental factors play a substantial role in the development of the oxytocin system until our systems are fully developed. Understanding what occurs with the oxytocin system during the first few years of life could help us to unravel this aspect of addictive behavior and use that knowledge for treatment and prevention", lead researcher Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman said.