The impact of exposure to addictive drugs on future generations: Physiological and behavioral effects

Neuropharmacology. 2014 Jan;76 Pt B(0 0):269-75. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.06.016. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


It is clear that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to drug addiction. Recent evidence indicating trans-generational influences of drug abuse highlight potential epigenetic factors as well. Specifically, mounting evidence suggests that parental ingestion of abused drugs influence the physiology and behavior of future generations even in the absence of prenatal exposure. The goal of this review is to describe the trans-generational consequences of preconception exposure to drugs of abuse for five major classes of drugs: alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opioids, and cocaine. The potential epigenetic mechanisms underlying the transmission of these phenotypes across generations also are detailed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'NIDA 40th Anniversary Issue'.

Keywords: Alcohol; Cocaine; Drugs of abuse; Epigenetic; Marijuana; Nicotine; Opioids; Transgenerational.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child of Impaired Parents*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*


  • Illicit Drugs