Many questions have been asked as to whether alcoholism is something that is developed through experiences and surroundings or if it is something hereditary. Finding the cause of alcoholism would lead to understanding how to quickly stop the addiction and the withdrawal symptoms. It was thought to be that heavy alcohol use was caused due to environmental factors, such as parents, friends, housing conditions, but studies have been done to show that having a couple genes or certain conditions in the brain will increase the chance of addiction. Many alcoholics started off by self-medicating their anxiety and depression.
Subhash C. Pandey, Ph.D., a psychiatrist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, found that a high level of anxiety could have a key role in alcohol dependency. Pandey’s work focused on a CREB protein producing gene. CREB is known to regulate brain function during development stages. CREB is also involved in alcohol tolerance, dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Another key part to understanding how CREB is linked to alcohol is by understanding in what part of the brain it is being produced in. The amygdala is the part the brain that deals with arousal, emotions, and hormones. Less CREB in the amygdala will lead to increased anxiety, and therefore an increase in the chance of alcohol consumption. This was proven by breeding mice to have less CREB in their brain which resulted in increased anxiety and preferred to drink alcohol instead of water.
Dr. Danielle Dick at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and her team worked on region of chromosome 15 which has many genes that are involved with the brain chemical, GABA, gamma-amino butyric acid between neurons. They selected three of those genes and used SNP markers to study the differences between the genes in families with alcoholics. The only one that seemed to be different in alcoholics was the GABRG3 gene. Also, dopamine receptors can determine alcoholism also. A person with more D-2 Dopamine receptors will be less likely to crave alcohol and a lower amount of receptors would lead to a higher intake of alcohol leading to a increased risk of alcoholism.
Patricia I. Ordonica, examined alcoholics and found that they were two and a half times more likely to have the OPRIMI gene. The OPRIMI gene is a version of a molecule that is known to trap chemical impulses in the brain. This could explain why people with this gene are likely to become alcoholics. The combination of all of these genes and brain chemicals could be the formula for an alcoholic. Knowing that all these contribute to alcoholism could play an important role in finding a seemingly flawless cure or preventative for alcoholism.
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