Saturday, August 27, 2011
Why just alcohol? (From a LinkedIn duscussion)
Hi Howard. thank you so much for your valuable insights. I would like to restrict my blog to discussing a possible pharmacodynamic disease model for alcoholism for this reason. Alcohol and alcohol addiction is unique in human history. Alcohol isn't just a feel good drug - or a poison. Alcohol sterilizes water. Literally, Western civilization could not have spread into Northern Europe if people did not seek alcohol laden liquids. Western man became vulnerable to water born disease as soon as they stopped migrating and stayed in one place long enough to pollute their own water supplies. Only those who experienced twilight hour craving for alcohol, when, for millions of years, the men returned from the day time hunt back to the settlement, those who felt a desire to find their way back to a source of alcohol were assured of not contracting a fatal water born disease. Those who did not have that genetic variation, simply died out in a generation or two. For what ever reason, our aldehyde sensor, that tells us when we turn acidotic from starvation, some how (random mutation highly selected for) got crossed with the resident endorphin Circadian rhythm generator on part of the opiate receptor. In plain English, when the other endocrine receptors peak at around 4 pm, we get a hyper-alert starvation warning which is either extinguished immediately with an ounce or so of alcohol or simply wears off gradually after a carbohydrate load that also satisfies that starvation alarm for another 24 hours. Like all biosystems, there is a bell shaped distribution of receptor sensitivity (which we experience as craving intensity). Some people have no mechanism to generate cravings for alcohol at all, but on the other end of the curve, some of us got stuck with a balky receptor that won't turn off with just one or two ounces of alcohol or even with a gluttonous carbo load. Our entire brain gets taken over until we find a pathway back to alcohol, which is the most efficient way to turn off the rogue receptor. Even though the defect is just like a silent switch that we can't feel directly,every bit of brain matter at higher conscious levels (that we call the emotional and spiritual) is held hostage until that nasty receptor finally gets pickled enough to stop functioning. Nomadic peoples, the Native Americans or Arabs, never had the survival pressure to develop this pattern. Orientals seem to have boiled everything since the dawn of their civilization, and hence, Chinese never were threatened with lethal water born illness. They just get very flushed when they consume alcohol because they can't metabolize the aldehyde byproducts. But neither Arabs, Native Americans nor Orientals have a turn off switch when they drink alcohol...they just keep on until they get cellular addiction. I have a lot more to suggest on this topic,which is why I decided to take those discussions to a more specifically technical blog, but I wanted to answer your question as part of this discussion because it does lead us to a very very important insight: Now we can fit the physical level with the emotional and spiritual under one holistic model that easily accounts for the different observations that different discussants have been making. Every one is totally correct at some time during the natural progression of the illness.