May 18, 2011

Unraveling Alcoholism

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Children with a family history of alcoholism (FHP) have a higher risk for becoming alcoholic themselves. New findings show that a "moderate" alcohol dose can increase subjective responses of stimulation and elevate positive mood state in individuals with an FHP of type I alcoholism.

Researchers have long known that individuals with a positive family history of alcoholism (FHP) are at an increased risk themselves for alcoholism. This increased risk may be due to their different reaction to alcohol than individuals with a negative family history of alcoholism (FHN). This study investigated how sensitive individuals with an FHP of type I form of alcoholism "“ characterized by a relatively late onset of dependence in socially well-adjusted individuals, low prevalence of familial alcoholism, and a milder course "“ are to alcohol's stimulating properties.

"Most researchers look at a narrow group of alcoholics, for example, sons and fathers," Anna HV Söderpalm Gordh, assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg and first author of the study was quoted as saying. "My study is the first to take a closer look at a larger group "“ Type I "“ that has a family member with alcoholism. In my study you can have a multigenerational family history, which makes it more general, particularly in light of the fact that about 40 percent of the Swedish population have a close relative with an alcohol problem."

"The type I alcoholics make up a much more common group than Type II," Söderpalm Gordh said, "which is very uncommon and rare."

"Participants with a family member with Type I alcoholism reported more stimulant-like effects after the alcohol, compared to the FHN participants," Harriett de Wit was quoted as saying. "This suggests that even children of Type I alcoholics may inherit some characteristic that changes how they feel after alcohol which may, in turn, affect their risk for alcohol abuse. With alcohol and many other drugs, stimulant-like subjective effects are often associated with high risk for abuse."

"These results tell us that some of us are more sensitive to the rewarding properties of alcohol, which in turn might lead to increased consumption," said Söderpalm Gordh. "So, be aware of your reaction. If you notice that you might react stronger, happier, or more rewarded than your friends when you drink, try to slow down or not drink more than the rest do. Try to drink the recommended units per week "“ seven to eight for women, 13 to 14 for men "“ as any more than that is classified as risky consumption."

SOURCE: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, May 16, 2011