The Benefits of Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS) Testing in Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Int J Genom Data Min. 2018;2018(1):115. doi: 10.29014/IJGD-115.000015. Epub 2018 Jan 15.


Following 25 years of extensive research by many scientists worldwide, a panel of ten reward gene risk variants, called the Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS), has been developed. In unpublished work, when GARS was compared to the Addiction Severity Index (ASI), which has been used in many clinical settings, GARS significantly predicted the severity of both alcohol and drug dependency. In support of early testing for addiction and other RDS subtypes, parents caught up in the current demographic of 127 people, both young and old, dying daily from opiate/opioid overdose, need help. In the past, families would have never guessed that their loved ones would die or could be in real danger due to opiate addiction. Author, Bill Moyers, in Parade Magazine, reported that as he traveled around the United States, he found many children with ADHD and other spectrum disorders like Autism, and noted that many of these children had related conditions like substance abuse. He called for better ways to identify these children and treat them with approaches other than addictive pharmaceuticals. To our knowledge, GARS is the only panel of genes with established polymorphisms reflecting the Brain Reward Cascade (BRC), which has been correlated with the ASI-MV alcohol and drug risk severity score. While other studies are required to confirm and extend the GARS test to include other genes and polymorphisms that associate with an hypodopaminergic trait, these results provide clinicians with a non-invasive genetic test. Genomic testing, such as GARS, can improve clinical interactions and decision-making. Knowledge of precise polymorphic associations can help in the attenuation of guilt and denial, corroboration of family gene-o-grams; assistance in risk-severity-based decisions about appropriate therapies, including pain medications and risk for addiction; choice of the appropriate level of care placement (i.e., inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient, residential); determination of the length of stay in treatment; determination of genetic severity-based relapse and recovery liability and vulnerability; determination of pharmacogenetic medical monitoring for better clinical outcomes (e.g., the A1 allele of the DRD2 gene reduces the binding to opioid delta receptors in the brain, thus, reducing Naltrexone's clinical effectiveness); and supporting medical necessity for insurance scrutiny.

Keywords: African-Americans; Benefits; Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS); Hypodopaminergia; P450 system; Pro-dopamine regulation; Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS).