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Re: causes of addiction Alan

Posted by Elizabeth on February 27, 2002, at 0:43:04

In reply to Re: causes of addiction Elizabeth, posted by Alan on February 24, 2002, at 22:23:45

Hi Alan.

I'm familiar with most of the major genetic findings. That wasn't what I meant.

I'm interested in the phenotype: how does the predisposition express itself in persons who do not become alcoholics? Is there a way for us to identify the predisposition with some certainty *before* the person becomes an alcoholic? (that would be damned useful)

We haven't figured out the genetics of it yet (and it's going to be very complicated so don't expect anybody to find out soon). That's why I'm interested in looking at it on this level. I want to come up with some method for predicting who is at risk.

I think that it's some sort of temperament or temperamental traits that are inherited and that predispose a person to alcoholism. So what I'm wondering is: what is that temperament?

We don't yet know enough about the genetics to be able to do a gene test to find out who's at risk, who is predisposed to become an alcoholic. So I'd like to know whether we could get an idea of whether someone is predisposed based on temperament and other characteristics. [Note that an "at risk" person may not have *any* alcoholic family members.]

I'm also interested in whether there's a specific predisposition for alcohol (or other drugs), or whether it's a general tendency to become addicted ("addictive personality").

BTW, regarding rats: you may be interested to know that some folks at UMass have bred rats who prefer morphine, rats who are indifferent to it, and rats who don't like it. (It took years, which shows some serious commitment.) I love this stuff (animal experimentation, not morphine).


> Here are some facts on biological influences (using addiction to alcohol)
> * Adopted individuals are more susceptible to alcoholism if one or both of their biological parents has a history of alcoholism.
> *Having an identical twin with alcoholism puts a male at especially increased risk for alcohol problems.
> *Compared with other children, children whose parents abuse alcohol have a higher tolerance for multiple alcoholic drinks taken over an hour or two. They also show a smaller evoked brain response to certain types of sensory stimulation.
> *Researchers have bred rats and mice that prefer alcoholic drinks to water. One such strain has reduced levels of a brain chemical called NPY; mice engineered to overproduce NPY are very sensitive to alcohol's sedating effect and drink little.
> *Molecular geneticists have identified a gene on chromosome 11 that is more common among people with alcoholism, especially severe cases.
> Such findings have fueled the search for a better understanding of the genetic and bio-chemical influences on adiction. THe most extensive study yet- a $25 million dollar, 5 year analysis of 600 alcoholics and their relatives- is underway. If biological markers for being prone to addiction can be found, then perhaps young people at risk for specific addiction can be identified and counseled.
> Even so, there are still always psychological and cultural (social) influences that will play a part in abuse of substances.




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