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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Alcohol releases endorphins...

ABC’s News 10 out of Sacramento, recently broadcast a piece about a research study being conducted as the University of California at San Francisco. This study shows that when a person takes a drink endorphins are released in the brain that make the drinker “feel good.” I can understand that and I’m not sure why this is a “new” thing. Haven’t we known all along that people drink to feel good – get high – have a buzz – party hardy??? So, for me, it is not a far leap to discover that there are endorphins released that make drinkers feel good when drinking.

You will find the link here:


It seems that the researchers think this may be a step to aid in the reduction of alcoholism. That makes sense to me also. If drinking doesn’t produce those coveted feelings of goodness, then why drink at all? I think they may be on to something here – but only to a certain degree.

For the beginning drinker, if there were not so much pleasure in those first few drinks, then they may not succumb to binge drinking. I’m thinking of teen-agers and college students. If there was a vaccine that prevented them from deriving pleasure from drinking, would parents make sure they were given that injection before heading out to social events? Or even enrolling in college? I know I would have had my kids at the head of the line. Of course, if the vaccine destroyed ALL pleasure then it would not be acceptable.

But, for the seasoned drinker who is over the age of consent and has already been drinking for many years, I doubt they would consent to such a vaccine especially if they were not alcoholics. What would be the point? If they were responsible drinkers who did not drink and drive, then there would be no need to limit the pleasure gained from drinking.

For the alcoholic who has spent a good amount of time in rehab centers and making viable attempts at sobriety, this may be a good tool for them. There would have to be a real dedication and strive to remain sober after detox. But the alcohol addiction is so strong, I don’t know how long the alcoholic would continue on the drug regimen.

We already have drugs such as Naltrexone which blocks receptors which allow alcoholics to get those intoxicated feelings. This in turn results in fewer cravings. We also have Campral which, as I understand it, restores the chemical imbalance in the brain which reduces the cravings and prevents relapses. Of course, there is Antabuse which creates unpleasant side-affects as a result of alcohol consumption. We have all these tools available to us, yet alcoholism is still running rampant through our streets – yelling along that way that it is here to stay.

I hope that the researchers continue along the same lines that they are currently pursuing. With every study, there is more knowledge and – as I have stated many times – knowledge is the key to survival. Someday we may benefit from all the research and study that we will find a way to enjoy alcohol without becoming addicted to it.

I know many people can drink without adverse consequences. They can enjoy that scotch on the rocks or a fine bottle of wine. But, they don’t become addicted to the feeling of intoxication. Maybe those are the people whose brains we should really be researching, as well as all the other areas of their lives, social, economic, childhood, genetics. If we find out why people DON’T become alcoholics, maybe we can find out how to prevent people from becoming alcoholics.

Fantasyland has never been my place of residence. I doubt that any of the things I’ve suggested will ever be examined in my lifetime – definitely not what is left of Riley’s lifetime. However, in Fantasyland – and only in Fantasyland -- we might be able to vaccinate our children at an early age for illnesses such as alcoholism, or maybe even other addictions, at the same time we vaccinate against measles and mumps. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing!!

So to the researchers at UCSF – please keep up the good work!

10 comments:

Syd said...

This is an interesting article that has a different slant to it: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1344971/Vaccine-alcoholism-works-making-feel-sick-drink.html

It would be useful to know who has the gene for alcoholism and perhaps then consider a preventative measure. I think that in so many ways alcoholism is worse than addiction to drugs.

Amy said...

My end stage alcoholic has been on both Naltroxene and Campral. Neither stopped him from drinking. I also don't think he's at a stage any longer where alcohol brings pleasure...it's not like he's happy when he's drinking. It may 'feel good' when he starts drinking again (which is only after a hospital stay where he gets sober for a short period of time)...but he quickly becomes miserable...in his mind he's miserable either way. If there only was a way for a preventative measure (as Syd said)...as it is a progressive disease....

jo said...

my A is asian, and already lacks the gene to metabolize alcohol as the body intended. so he already gets physically sick..as does my daughter. (which, praise God, keeps her from drinking) he gets mean and nasty (well, more so--sober is bad enough..the short time he is sober) so i dont see his point in drinking. its obviously a addiction, we cant understand as non addicts.

a vaccine may well work to a point. but this misses a key part of addiction. addicts have internal issues, which they sought to run from in drugs. without addressing this...this will be a partial...while great,,,part of treatment.

but without mental recovery, its hopeless. they may simply kill themselves, or who knows what to endlessly attempt to run from inner reality.

i wish it was ONLY physical. it isnt.

but feeling sick wont work with mine. that is why fewer of those without this gene dont drink, but many more do...as in native americans,,,alaskans..asians.

it would be fun to watch, tho. till we had to clean it all up.

imho.

Karen E. said...

We spoke with an attorney this week about our situation: Living and caring for the alcy.. main question was: she falls,,is bruised, slashed nose, broken out teeth black eye..all from falls,,she only wishes to drink all the time and refuses to go to ER or DR...she no longer knows who the President is or her birthdate...she just needs a drink..she stated months ago she wants to stay in her bed, drink and us to take care of her (oh thanks Mom) IF someone came to our home and saw her condition..what would happen.

Atty who does not have any experience with this suggested taking her to or having a dr come to ou home for a full evaluation and blood work ( hurrah for our workbook!)..just to cover ourselves. also to file a claim on her long term care policy for home help..although there is an exclusion for drug and alcohol abuse. If the claim is denied stop paying for policy (eff since 97),if it works have someone come in and help bathe, etc.

Its a plan and we feel a little better knowing our backs are covered..we think.

jo said...

karen, thanks for sharing. that sounds like a great plan! i so hope the insurance pays and it will help you out so much...to get some rest.

using her blood work..and dr...you could ask the dr about hospice. here they go on a 6 month plan and will renew it if they live longer. ours here also take addicts and will let them drink. worth a shot,,,its free, and it will also provide some much needed help for you. you do need a dr to sign off on it and do the orders.

good going. :)

Aditya Samitinjay said...

Alcohol stimulates the release of endorphins particularly into two parts of the brain, the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal cortex. The endorphins also decrease the effect of the stress hormones Dopamine and Cortisol. No wonder people like to drink straight after work. I've written an article on this, please check it out here Why Drinking Alcohol Makes Us Feel Good. Hope it helps! Thanks for a good read!

Immortal Alcoholic's Wife said...

Karen -- I agree with Jo. Ask your dr. about hospice. You can get in California, so you may be able to get it where you live.

You might also try Social Security Disability. It is sometimes difficult to get, but it is worth the effort. If you are declined the first time, try again. Sometimes it takes a couple of times before it is approved.

My addicition counselor friend has suggested to me that I call my county's social services dept and have them do an inspection / evaluation. They have resources you can't get any other way.

ADITYA - Thanks for link, but I've been unable to open it. Can you provide another way for me to see it. Or can you e-mail it to me? immortalalcoholic@gmail.com

Thanks --- Linda

Karen E. said...

Yes we know that after the eval and blood work hospice could be an option. We are hesitant about a doctors eval..are they bound by law to admit her to hospital if they feel she needs it?..what if she refuses? what if they make it sound like she will get lots of attention, etc and she agrees in a weak moment...and the circle starts again. I will remind her she will not beable to drink and we probably will not still be here upon her return....its never easy. Off to bathe her and put new sheets on her bed and throw the old away..its starting to stink up the place.. I get new cheap sheets (if there is such a thing for king beds) for her because I refuse to wash it where I was our clothes...

Karen E. said...

Yes we know that after the eval and blood work hospice could be an option. We are hesitant about a doctors eval..are they bound by law to admit her to hospital if they feel she needs it?..what if she refuses? what if they make it sound like she will get lots of attention, etc and she agrees in a weak moment...and the circle starts again. I will remind her she will not beable to drink and we probably will not still be here upon her return....its never easy. Off to bathe her and put new sheets on her bed and throw the old away..its starting to stink up the place.. I get new cheap sheets (if there is such a thing for king beds) for her because I refuse to wash it where I was our clothes...

Owen Lowe said...

Yeah, alcohol may allow the discharge of more endorphins in our body, provided that the intake is moderated. For me, feeling good after a hard day's work is very different from being drunk.