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Substance Use a Genetic Habit

Substance Use a Genetic Habit

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Published by: alcoholrehab on May 10, 2010
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Substance Use – a habit of the gene’s?

What's even more disheartening than labeling normal folks as sick is that a large percentage of erroneous diagnoses are not made by doctors, but by unqualified "drug counselors." Treatment and AA are recommended by counselors as a way to "nip it in the bud" but these recommendations do far more damage to the individual than if they had just been left alone (which will be discussed in some of my blogs later.) It should be pointed out that there is a major conflict of interest among drug counselors, a conflict of interest that cannot be ignored. The majority are, themselves, members of 12 step groups and are believers in AA dogma. These nonprofessional "professional" counselors have been manipulated into believing 12-Step propaganda. And, like the AMA, their "professional" status allows counselors to convince their patients that the patients need help because they are sick. And, if this 12 Step nonsense is not harmful enough, misinformation abounds. Consider that recently in an attempt to prove a genetic link for alcohol and drug abuse, most studies only provide roundabout evidence of a predisposition, not a cause for alcoholism. With this said, we should point out that the predisposition can only prove a difference in bodily processes, not a difference in thinking. ''Knowing the sequence of individual genes doesn't tell you anything about the complexities of what life is,'' said Dr. Brian Goodwin, a theoretical biologist at Schumacher College in Devon, England, and a member of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. Goodwin goes on to explain single gene mutations are not accountable for, and cannot explain, complex behaviors. Genes produce proteins; they do not guide behaviors. The truth is a predisposition for substance abuse, if it does exist, has no bearing on subsequent behaviors. Chemical processes do not make a person an alcoholic. The person makes the conscience choice. Altered processing of alcohol in no way determines choice or behaviors. Obsessive drinking is not a reaction to bodily processes, but merely a choice. The amount consumed is determined by the individual not by the body. Nevertheless, news stories surface every year proclaiming discoveries of the genetic sources of emotional and behavioral problems while ignoring the mountains of evidence that refutes such preposterous assertions. Genetics is the new panacea for medical professionals. Since 1987 such reports have appeared on the front page of The New York Times in connection with manic-depressive disorder, schizophrenia, homosexuality, drug abuse and alcoholism. For example, in the early 1990's the Times published a front page story with the headline "Alcoholism Gene Found." However, soon after, the Times published a story titled "Scientists Now Doubt They Found Faulty Gene Linked to Mental Illness." This was not on the front page like the initial story but deep within the paper (Stanton Peele). In the study a genetic marker was found in 69 percent of 70 cadavers who had died from alcohol related deaths. But, the cadavers only represented 5 percent of the American population. According to the study 25 percent of the population has the "alcoholism gene marker" or

genetic predisposition. The actual alcoholic population is 10 percent. It was then found that only 1/5 of the 25 percent that have the marker would develop alcoholic drinking that fit the parameters of those involved in the Blum-Noble study. Therefore the results fail to demonstrate any increased vulnerability to alcoholism. In later articles it was revealed that the genetic marker appears to have little to do with becoming an alcoholic. Not surprising, the AMA supported the faulty findings with limited investigation. The two members of the team who reported the false discovery of the gene were not without bias. Ernest Noble is the former director of the NIAAA and Blum, a Pharmacologist for Texas University, markets his own remedy for the malady in the form of supplements. Subsequently, a team of three genetics researchers summarized the results of research on the Blum and Noble "alcoholism gene:" excluding results from studies Blum himself conducted, "the frequency of the A1 allele at DRD2 is 0.18 in alcoholics, 0.18 in controls (random population and nonalcoholic), and 0.18 in severe alcoholics. Blum et al. reported allele frequencies for their alcoholics that are significantly different from the combined allele frequencies reported by a total of seven other groups of investigators for alcoholics (p < .001)." (J Gelernter, D Goldman, N Risch, The A1 allele at the D2 dopamine receptor gene and alcoholism: a reappraisal, JAMA, 1993;269:1676) (Stanton Peele, the Bottle in the Gene) Looking at the situation objectively, if alcoholism is passed through genes, the abnormality must be relatively new. As stated previously, alcoholism did not exist in the early colonization of America. In fact, it did not exist until the late 1700's. Some would argue that the residents of the United States are largely immigrants and as a result the alcoholism gene was introduced later in history. Meaning, the "new" citizens are not of the same family tree as those of the 1700s. But, it’s important to point out, many cultures outside of the United States do not even know what alcoholism is; they do not have a word for it. People with different cultural backgrounds do not have different genetic make-ups. America's arrogance has led the population to believe that we are scientifically more advanced than other cultures; therefore, we know the truth and they do not. But this is far from true. In a country where we claim to "know the truth", the City of Los Angeles has more addicts than all of Europe. While professionals strive to remove the stigma surrounding alcoholics, they are in essence, removing the social unacceptability of the act. By removing the stigma, they are encouraging this socially unacceptable behavior to continue. Today the AMA reports that while there is no "alcoholic personality," it does not seem unreasonable to believe that there may be "some combination of personality traits which are contributive to the development of alcoholism." They assert that emotional immaturity and strong dependency needs are commonly seen in alcoholics. While researchers work hard to prove the disease concept sound and verifiable, repeatedly studies refute the impact of genetic predispositions. "A great deal of evidence, more consistent and extensive than anything yet

established by biological research, shows that social categories are the best predictors of drinking problems and alcoholism. For example, in one study of Boston ethnics, Irish Americans were seven times as likely to become alcoholic over a 40-year period as Italian Americans living in the same neighborhoods. Research uniformly finds alcoholism to be 3 to 10 times as prevalent among men as among women. Even researchers with a biological orientation acknowledge that group differences of such magnitude cannot be explained by genetic factors; certainly no such genes have been identified." (Peele, Second Thoughts about a Gene for Alcoholism) Strangely, cultural groups that don't believe they can control their drinking have higher rates of alcoholism than those who believe they can. The NIAAA (National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse) found that 1 in 4 children, before the age of 18, in the US, have been exposed to a family member who was/is an alcoholic. In 1974 an estimate was developed by Booz-Allen Hamilton based on the ratio of problem drinkers in the US, and the average number of children a family has. This method was then applied by the Children of Alcoholics Foundation in 1984, and it is estimated that 6,600,000 adolescents were children of alcoholics (Keep in mind that there are 195,000,000 people in the United States, so even though 6,600,000 looks large, compared to the total population, it is not). Another estimate, using the 1980 population census, puts the number of COA's (Children of Alcoholics) at 22,000,000. It has also been found that children exposed to the idea that they will inevitably become alcoholic drinkers should they decide to drink, and those who enter support groups, have lower self-esteem and increased feelings of depression, two characteristics of every substance abuser. Similar to treatment for substance abusers overall, children entering support groups as a result of familial problems are more likely to develop the same or similar problems themselves. Furthermore, it has been shown in numerous studies that COA's are only 6 percent more likely to become problem drinkers. Like the need for a war on drugs, the idea that COA's will inevitably become alcoholics, is pure propaganda. Teaching children they will face inevitable consequence upon the consumption of substances, for many, creates the problem. It seems that self-proclaimed treatment professionals, blinded by intention, are ignoring the overwhelming evidence that contradicts the very principles they teach. True scientist and medical professionals know, beyond reasonable doubt, the truth about alcoholism and substance abuse. The rise of pop-psychology has clouded reasonable thought. Selfhelp groups, treatment "therapy," counselors, and groupers are severely damaging the very people they are whole-heartedly trying to help. Twelve-Step dogma and treatment misinformation contradicts empirical evidence and rational thought, in essence, stripping patients and members of inherent and inbred abilities of spontaneous recovery. If you or someone you know is being labeled a genetic “alcoholic” or a “drug addict” you may want to consult some professionals that have been

helping people move past these labels for over two decades. Contact the St. Jude’s Retreat House at www.soberforever.net, or Baldwin Research at 1-888-424-2626. The St. Jude’s Retreats have helped thousands over the years live the dream of personal empowerment and joyful living, not based on misguided science, but rather, on common sense and reality.

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