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Thread: Addicts and Addictions: Understanding the Disease

  1. #11
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    Every addictive drug without exception activates cell group A10 in the human brain. It is a cluster of dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain stem, and it connects into a part of the limbic system called the nucleus accumbens (and a few other areas). Animals will press a bar for direct electrical stimulation of this area of the brain meaning it is rewarding, or a plesure center. Drugs which do not activate this area of the brain are not addictive.

    Alcohol however has special problems. It's one of those drugs like caffeine or aspirin it goes everywhere and does everything. It does have an effect on dopamine and serotonin but it also has a direct chemical effect on endogenous opiate receptors. In high enough doses it also creates anoxia in the hippocampus the same way nitrous oxide does. Alcohol also affects the hormone vasopressin which is involved in aggressive behavior and sex.

    Alcohol is especially bad because it's none specific. Whereas LSD is active at a dose of 250 micrograms, a practicing alcoholic can easily consume a liter in a day. People with depression and bipolar disorder frequently medicate themselves with alcohol. You can breed an alcoholic rat in six generations.

    Among the cluster B personality disorders which include psychopathy and narcissism and so on, almost every cluster B personality is a substance abuser. The converse is not true not all substance abusers have personality disorders. (Although some are plain old crazy lol).

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    You and everyone you know is in a battle with a lawyer, they feed off you, and their easiest prey as they have politicians, most politicians are lawyers, is those with addiction problems. To beat a lawyer, beat addiction, and stay clean, other than that it's the supply and demand of the court system, and they will eat off you.

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    50% of alcoholics are genetically f*cked before they're even born.

    The name of the gene is GABRG3. It's on chromosome 15. Google is your friend.

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    I live in the heroin capital of the United States. My town is less than 50,000 and this year we have surpassed last year's OD's of 1700 with 170 deaths, The problem started years ago when the patient pain chart, the one with smiley faces showing your pain level was enacted. Dr's were encouraged to prescribe pain medication for all levels of pain. Loratabs were passed out like tic tacs. When the Dr's and hospitals started catching grief after numerous deaths attributed to the pills, they slowed down the prescriptions. Then the pill mills opened, but pharmacies started to refuse to fill the prescriptions. People were addicted, so they moved on to Oxy. The street price rose to $40 a pill. People turned to heroin for $20. I don't blame some of them. Some of those people were truly in pain, they believed that if a Dr prescribed the pills that they must need them. The people I do blame are the idiots that chose to start heroin. I don't come to this decision uniformed. My cousin's son was one of the 26 that died in a single day a year ago. He was 22. Loved very much. Started smoking weed. Moved onto pills. Got addicted to heroin. He went to multiple rehab programs. The last one seemed to have worked for awhile. After rehab he went to a halfway house. They helped him find a job. He was doing well. One night he was in tremendous pain. The halfway house took him to the local ER. Kidney stones. He told the Dr's he was an addict. The guy from the halfway house told them he was an addict. The ER Dr shot him with pain meds and sent him back to the halfway house. Monday morning he and all the other residents were drug tested, he failed of course. Even knowing what happened at the ER, they still kicked him out because of the zero tolerance policy. He was back on the street. I was visiting my son in another state. His father was in Florida. We were not here to talk to the director. Anyway, he was kicked out. No place to stay. He went to an older lady's house that he had done drugs with before. They shot up together. He was found dead 13 hours later. 22 years old. It would be easy to blame the halfway house, the ER Dr or even the woman who shot up with him. But, it was him that chose to shoot up the first time and the last time. There is a huge debate in this town about Narcan. Some people are being revived two, three, even seven times a day. Our police, fire and EMS cannot afford Narcan at this level. The other debate is whether this is an illness/disease or a choice. I've known lots of people whose parents were alcoholics that made the choice not to drink. I've also known people whose parents were not addicts but they chose to do drugs. In my opinion, people choose to take that first drink. People choose to shoot up the first time. Whether it is an illness after that point, who knows. Heroin addiction ends in one of two ways. You choose to stop and get help or you die.

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    A. Calling addiction a disease does nothing except allow addicts to avoid responsibility. I dealt with a lot of drunks who assured me that they had no responsibility for what they were doing. "It's genetic. It's a disease. It's not my fault. What can I do?"

    B. What parents and friends can do for drunks and junkies is to quit helping them pursue their addiction. And elderly couple talked to me about their son who was around 53-years old. In the previous year he'd wrecked two cars when he was drunk and his parents bought him cars so he could work, which, of course, he wasn't doing. They also went and got him out of jail four times. They were worried about what would happen to their poor son when they weren't there to help him.

    "He might quit drinking." My uncle did. On his fourth DUI arrest my aunt did not go get him out of jial. He spent two weeks in jail till he went to trial. He was terrified. He spent the rest of his life sober. A sober jerk but that's better than a drunk jerk.

    C. Drunks, and addicts, begin their recovery the moment they decide they have to. Not when their wife or their boss or their kids decide they have to but when they decide they have to. One catch is that they usually have to be sober to realize what's happening.

    D. When I sobered up, after years of being drunk, I was shocked that all my friends were boring drunks. It was another two weeks before I realized the reason all my friends were boring drunks was simply that I had been a boring drunk for years.

    E. When you are sober your friends don't like you any more. You're suddenly alone. And, those "friends" are suddenly offering to share the booze with you and are inviting you to go drinking with them and doing whatever they can do to get you back on the team.

    I know a few heroin addicts who have been straight for years and I have known hundreds of drunks who stayed sober. It's not a disease over which you have no control. It is your choice.

    And, there is a lot of help available. AA has it's advocates and RR, Rational Recovery, another 12-step program, has it's fans. Where I worked they would send drunks to residential treatment facilities and it was covered by the health insurance.

    But, in the end, the individual decided to be sober...or not. But, don't help your loved ones and friends be drunks and junkies.
    Last edited by patrickt; 08-29-2017 at 06:11 AM.

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    This topic has always been very important to me as I have read them for years now. All while trying to get a rock solid answer of whether alcoholism is the result of one's genetics, or one's choice.

    Both of my parent's rest their souls, were hard alcoholic's while raising 9 of us kids. Of the nine, myself and 4 of my siblings did NOT become alcoholics, while my other 4 siblings did.

    We buried my favorite brother at age 66 a few year ago ...sclerosis of the liver. The way I see it, did the drinking gene in my family just hit and miss ? Or, is the theory of "genetically acquired " alcoholism, not as sound as we read that it is ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregonejeep View Post
    This topic has always been very important to me as I have read them for years now. All while trying to get a rock solid answer of whether alcoholism is the result of one's genetics, or one's choice.

    Both of my parent's rest their souls, were hard alcoholic's while raising 9 of us kids. Of the nine, myself and 4 of my siblings did NOT become alcoholics, while my other 4 siblings did.

    We buried my favorite brother at age 66 a few year ago ...sclerosis of the liver. The way I see it, did the drinking gene in my family just hit and miss ? Or, is the theory of "genetically acquired " alcoholism, not as sound as we read that it is ?
    Broadly speaking, the experts say it's about 50/50. Alcoholism is a "multi-factor" genetic predisposition, and the "level of predisposition" varies greatly according to many factors, some of which are understood and some of which aren't.

    So, it's not like you have "the" gene, it's like, if you're a serious alcoholic you probably have many genes that contribute to your condition, and it is probably also true that at least one of these has expressed itself in a dysfunctional manner. Here's a good link, it's pretty technical but it also has lots of coverage.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2442454/

    Just because you have a predisposition, doesn't mean you'll be an alcoholic. But, there are things other than a few "alcoholism genes" that may predispose towards substance abuse disorder (of which alcohol use disorder is one variety) - for instance, 90% of sociopaths are comorbid with SAD and just under 40% with AUD. If you have "some other condition", it may predispose even more, and nudge an individual even more over the edge.

    Alcoholism is not a "choice", it is a serious medical condition. It is genetic in nature, and tragic at the human level and disastrous at the social level.

    I have learned over the years, that there is an easy way to tell if you're an alcoholic. It has nothing to do with how much you drink. (In fact, "alcoholism" has nothing whatsoever to do with how much you drink, or even "whether" you're drinking).

    The way to tell if you're an alcoholic, is to start drinking. "Normies", at some point, will reach a point where they don't want any more. They'll say "I've had enough", and they'll leave half the rest of the drink in their glass and get up and go home.

    Alcoholics, when they reach that point where the glow starts and the head starts to spin just a tad, they say, "this is good, I want more". If you get that reaction when you drink, you're an alcoholic. And y'know, obviously not with the first sip of a cold beer on a hot day, but if you keep on drinking, eventually you'll reach that point where there's a pretty obvious fork in the road, in terms of your experience of the drink.

    Genetically, it's not just hit and miss. If you look at the personality clusters in the DSM (the "spectrum" disorders) and you get the chance to study them for a while, you begin to realize that at some level they all look the same. The story for borderlines, is the same as it is for sociopaths, is the same as it is for narcissists and even some autistic and hyperactive kids. There is "more than one gene", in each case, that predisposes the condition, and the actual appearance of symptoms is highly correlated with what happens in the environment during certain critical periods in the brain, which are actually very brief. They're brief, but there's lots of them, and the effect on "personality" (which is a holistic level of description) is broad. Stress, is particularly devastating, cortisol affects almost all of the brain critical periods, protracted stress can really screw someone up if it happens at the right time in adolescence.

    If you're an alcoholic, you actually become that way at a young age, even if you don't start drinking till later in life. "Most" alcoholics have at least one incidence of pre-adolescent drunkenness, and in many cases it's an actual blackout (or more than one) - and sometimes they stop drinking entirely for some number of years, and then start again, and when they do, it's fierce. A practicing alcoholic who stops drinking (for some number of years, even) - if he picks up the first drink, he's right back where he left off. There's no "ramping up" like there is with heroin, you go straight from 0 to 60 and you keep going. There's no "curing" anyone of that, there's no form of "rehab" that's going to change that equation. Alcoholics eventually realize, the only way they're going to get the symptoms to stop is not to pick up the first drink. Unfortunately, some people don't learn that lesson till it's too late. It's really a very difficult equation, if the person is far enough gone it's like trying to tell a sociopath they have to care, "it just ain't gonna happen". And I mean, there's nothing anyone can do, patrickt is absolutely right that the person has to want to help themselves first, and he says they'll stop "when they have to", in my experience that means "when they're sufficiently devastated", when they "hit bottom", however that's defined in their own lives. But that well is deep, I know a sociopath who's been beaten up multiple times and doesn't seem to care about it. Alcoholics are kind of the same way, at some point they exhibit something closely resembling sociopathic behavior, they don't "care", they don't "attach", the alcohol prevents that from happening. In a normie any such behavior would probably stop after the hangover wears off, but in alcoholics it tends to continue - for months even years after there's no more booze in the system. It's weird, complicated stuff.

    Nah man, don't brush it off. If the gene's in your family and you don't feel you're an alcoholic, you're probably "latent" in some way, and if you're brave enough you can test yourself with my method and see what happens.

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    I should also mention, regarding genetics, that in at least two cases there are known "alcoholism predisposition genes" that also predispose towards depression, autism, and psychopathy.

    One case is the SCL6A4 gene that codes for the "serotonin transporter", in which there are several well known and well studied mutations. The other is MAO-L which causes a mutation in an enzyme called monoamine oxidase which is ubiquitous in the brain, it's required to destroy loose neurotransmitter molecules that somehow make their way out of the synapse and into the extracellular space (among other things). SCL6A4 is comorbid with depression, and MAO-L is comorbid with psychopathy. If you have SCL6A4 and your developmental experience is bad enough, you can become an "acquired sociopath", which is behaviorally identical to a psychopath, even though there is a difference at the brain/chemical level. And at that point you have a 90% of chance of "also" being a substance abuser.

    So like, it looks like the gene gives you possibilities, and which way it goes depends on what you're up to when you're 12 to 15. I'm an alcoholic, I have a double whammy, I have an SCL6A4 on my mom's side and an MAO on my dad's side. When I was 12 I got drunk for the first time on Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill, blacked out completely and didn't remember a thing for at least four hours. When I was 13 I got drunk for the second time on tequila sunrises, and crashed through a plate glass window and almost fell off a third floor balcony. Then I decided to "stop drinking" lol - when I was 15 had a beer and couldn't believe people actually drank the stuff, and I didn't have another drink till I was about 30. Then I did infrequent binge drinking for about 10 years, and then I got sick and "really" started drinking ('cause I felt sorry for myself). 'Course the drinking didn't make me any healthier lol - so now I'm 57 and I haven't had a drink in 11 years and 7 months and some days - since I found out my son was being born.... and see, this is the kind of stupid shit that happens when I drink. I get a phone call, and this chick I'm madly in love with tells me she's going to have my kid. You'd think I'd be happy about that, right? What happened is, I stared into the phone in disbelief, then something snapped in my head and I flew into a rage, I threw the phone into the TV set and it exploded and lit on fire, and I looked around and saw a half-empty bottle of Wild Turkey on the table so I reached for it and guzzled it. Then I looked back at the TV set, it was still burning, and I didn't care. Let the fucking thing burn, who cares. Then I threw the empty bottle on the kitchen floor (hard) and it broke and I ended up walking on little piece of glass for the next half hour. That's the kind of stuff that happens when I drink. Me and you and society at large, believe me, we're all a lot better off when I'm sober.

    So like, this booze stuff, it does things to me that it doesn't do to an ordinary human being. No one behaves that way, even when they're drinking! - I mean, amirite? This is entirely fucked up behavior I just described - "psychopathic" would not be an inaccurate description. Booze turns me into a truly fucked up human being. I may be fun to be around "for a little while", but not for long. I'm just telling you this to emphasize, this is serious shit. This is not a "choice". I did not "choose" to blow up my fuckin' TV, gnome sain'? Nah man - I could not help myself, I could not control my behavior. If someone else had been in the room, I probably would have hit 'em. Maybe even with the bottle or somethin'. Right? I mean, this is seriously fucked up shit. Alcohol is a very dangerous drug, when it's in the system of an alcoholic.

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    So now you have three specific genes that predispose towards alcoholism - "depending on other stuff". GABRG3 affects interneurons in the cerebral cortex. SCL6A4 affects the serotonin pathways from the midbrain to the hippocampus, amygdala, and frontal and parietal cortex, and MAO-L affects "just about everything" having to do with monoamines, which would include serotonin, dopamine, and the attentional mechanisms mediated by norepinephrine. So like, this stuff is mysterious, it's not just a single system in the brain that's being affected, because all these genes do different things but in each case they can result in alcoholism. The "ism" is a complex personality construction, it's not a simple biochemical abnormality. It takes years to build a personality, and a lot of the stuff gets wired in during adolescence. A young alcoholic may "act out" in the same way a young psychopath does, there will be a "conduct disorder" of sorts, and I mean, if we're talking about crashing through plate glass windows you can see how the word "disorder" applies. And, in a broad sense, the alcoholic "behavior" can apply to things other than alcohol. There is a "ritual" involved with boozing, there is some level of "romancing" the drink, there's all kindsa nutso stuff going on. If you're good enough with the practiced self observation you can even see some of it.

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    @nonstqr,

    I wish my reply here of why I did not become an alcoholic like my 4 siblings did, would be worthy of the intellectual replies you have posted above.... but not so.

    When I turned 21 years old as most males do, I got drunk at a few parties. Never liked the morning after headache. Never liked the "blurring" of my senses for hours after I sobered. One night shy of being 22 y.o. I got REALLY drunk at a titty bar. When the bar closed, I drove the back streets home to my apartment 4 miles away just to avoid the cops on the main streets.

    I was barely able to get in to bed I was so drunk. After I finally got my head straight after a day or so, I came to the full realization that..... what a dumbass I had been. I could have ran over someone and been sent to prison and made to wear lipstick for Bubba everyday....just because of drinking. I've never been "drunk" again for over 44 years now, and today I only drink a beer with a pizza now and again.

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