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How addcitive is alcohol?


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#1 robnibg

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 02:46 PM

Hi there!:)

I'm struggling to find some information on how quickly people become dependent on alcohol: if you drunk, say, 3 units a day everyday for three weeks would that be enough? What if you drunk 2 units twice a day for a fortnight? Anyone know?

#2 Zythryn

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 04:00 PM

I would guess it largely depends upon the person.
How much enjoyment they get from the 'buzz'. I am guessing both their genetic and psychological make-up both play a large role.
Some people have become 'alchoholic' after their first 'buzz'. While others drink socially and never become alcoholics.

#3 chriswhite

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 09:36 PM

It has such a strong association to the social aspect. I doubt it could take any less that a few months, but i agree with the other poster as well.

#4 djsee4

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 01:44 AM

My own dad is a recovering alcoholic dry for 23 years now. I am 28 and used to have to attend AA meetings held within the hospital as a family support and involvement technique. I was told I am born an alcoholic. They argue it is genetic predispostion for those it becomes problematic for. I imagine immediate family predominates this so-called mystery gene. Nature versus nurture aside: I advocate responsible consumption as the cure. Even vampires need blood.

#5 Essay

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 04:42 AM

I can't add anything more than the others have said, but that won't stop me from....

What follows is possibly totally wrong; but is I think close enough to being interesting, based on a distant and moderate education about physiolgy, biochemistry, etc., that... ...welcome any corrections:

I think it's interesting that alcohol is one of the 3 psychoactive drugs that don't contain Nitrogen.

Nitrogen is usually part of the active site for most drugs and is linked physiologically to what enables the "standard" addictive mechanism.
This mechanism lends itself to quantification of things like how many "units a day everyday for..." how long would cause addiction. Even that is somewhat variable due to genetics, etc.

Alcohol, however, uses a much different mechanism of addiction and happens to be much more variable across our populations; so it's probably impossible to quantify addictive threshhold dosages, like they do with LD50's.

You'd probably have better results correlating threshhold dosage with personality type (also somewhat genetic) or even with socioeconomic background, than with any one quantity that applied generally to the population.

...and then there's habits vs. addictions. ...telling oneself it's just a bad habit....

~ :turtle:

#6 sigh.ko.blah.grr

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 07:26 PM

The rate at which a mammal becomes addicted to alcohol is affected by numerous variables, but none (it seems) moreso than a genetic expression of greater numbers of dopamine receptors on the receiving ends of dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain. People with unusually high concentration of dopamine receptors in this region are known to be better candidates for addiction, not only to alcohol but to all manner of substance and behavioral process addictions.

Most alcoholics are likely to be addicts to other substances and behavioral processes, according to Shaffer, H.; LaPlante, D., La Brie, R.; et al: Toward a Syndrome Model of Addiction: Multiple Expressions, Common Etiology; in Harvard Review of Psychiatry, Vol. 12, 2004. Michael Bozarth seems to be the reigning expert on the neurobiology of all this at this time. See Bozarth, M.: Drug addiction as a psychobiological process, in Warburton, D. (ed.): Addiction controversies, London: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1990; and Bozarth, M.: Pleasure systems in the brain, in Warburton, D. (ed.), Pleasure: The politics and the reality, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1994.

#7 cooloola

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 09:42 PM

Certainly the dopaminic receptors within the limbic system play an important role. Is it possible to know the numbers of these receptors in a person? And can this number be altered?

#8 Moontanman

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 09:57 PM

I don't think you can say how much alcohol is addictive, there is a predisposition to it. Some people are addicted from their first drink others can drink socially all their lives and never be addicted. I've seen what alcohol addiction is from close up, my step dad and my dad were both alcoholics, one was too many and a thousand was never enough. I drink, occasionally, never been obsessed or even felt a need for it on any level. I think that if you cannot stop alcohol from destroying your life or at least influencing it strongly then you have a problem. from what I've seen most people are not alcoholics, most just drink occasionally because they like it but can "not" drink when it's the right thing to do. If your life revolves around alcohol then you are addicted, if alcohol is just a small facet of your life then you're not. I don't think any amount of drinking can make you an alcoholic but if you are predisposed to it any amount of drinking can make you an alcoholic.

#9 sigh.ko.blah.grr

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 05:10 AM

"Certainly the dopaminic receptors within the limbic system play an important role. Is it possible to know the numbers of these receptors in a person?"

Not in absolute terms. A receptor is nothing more than a big amine molecule on the surface of one end of a neuron or the other. Too small to count, BUT... we can tell when there are more or less of them in specific locales by watching fMRI scans and/or (to some extent) by how the person responds to various specific stimulations. I expect Cozzolino, LeDoux, Stahl, and maybe Panksepp or Watt would have something more definitive to say about this.

"And can this number be altered?"

Evidently, yes. And by a variety of interventions that run the gamut from repetitious pharmacological all the way to repetitious behavioral. We do it all the time. H**l, I'm doing it by posting on this forum. (It's -true-.)

#10 sigh.ko.blah.grr

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 05:17 AM

"I don't think you can say how much alcohol is addictive, there is a predisposition to it."

Yup. Definite nature -and- nurture. Several genes associated with a predisposition have been located, and the pharma boys (and girls) are working on specific agonists or antagonists to those genetic expressions. Steve Stahl is a good source on this.

But the behavior (as well as the chemical excitotoxicity) of alcoholism -also- play a major role in maintaining the addiction. Michael Bozarth has summed all this up in pretty readable detail. He thinks all addictions work this way, and so far, everything I have seen at the microbiological, as well as behavioral, level supports Bozarth's views.

Are you hip to the "cycle of addiction?"