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Alcoholism

Who is susceptible and why?


Bio/Psycho/Social Model

1) Individual who responds to alcohol in


a certain way. Positive reward.
2) Personality characteristics that
encourage use. Impulsiveness.
3) Member of social group where
A) pressure to drink. College Fraternity.
B) confusion over drinking ground rules.
Drink with meals or drink to get drunk?
Physiological factors
Biological susceptibility
Genetic evidence
Family history
Children of alcoholics (COA)
If father alcoholic,
25% sons affected
5-10% of daughters
Genetic evidence
Twin studies
MZ 100% genes
DZ 50% genes
Reared together
Alcoholism in
55% MZ twins
28% DZ twins
Adoption studies
Original studies done in
Denmark and Sweden.
Child adopted out.
Father alcoholic:
18% sons affected.
Father non-alcoholic:
5% sons affected.
Daughters less affected.
Males particularly susceptible
Male limited. TYPE II alcoholism.
More severe, early onset.
Many negative consequences.
Trouble with law, at school, on job.
Environment plays less of a role but can
lessen the severity.
Adopted COAs did better than those
raised with alcoholic parent.
Milieu limited. TYPE 1
Allwomen and 75% of men.
Less severe, later onset.
May not be treated.
Personality factors important.
Reward seekers. Psych dependence.
Environment plays key role.
Family and social groups.
Intoxication as recreation.
Good time depends on drinking.
What is inherited?
High initial tolerance.
Different rate of metabolism.
Alcohol -> acetaldehyde ->
acetate -> CO2 and H20
COAs higher levels of
acetaldehyde.
Metabolize alcohol quicker.
Hence higher tolerance
Acetaldehyde effects
Acetaldehyde may
combine with brain
chemicals to give
opiate-like high
Acetaldehyde also
toxic to liver and
heart.
Medical complications
Brain response to novelty
Brain waves to novel
stimuli.
P3 waves.
Less reaction in
alcoholics.
And in COAs before
start drinking.
Need more stimulation?
Psychological characteristics

Related to biology?
Reward seeking.
Impulsive.
Easily bored.
Risk takers
Gregarious
Push the limits
Act out
Social factors
Alcoholism high in
some cultures:
Americans, Swiss,
Irish, Poles.
Low in others:
Chinese, Greeks,
Orthodox Jews
Alcoholism is low in cultures where
Children learn alcohol
is a beverage.
Served in dilute forms.
Abstain okay.
Parents model
moderate drinking
Getting drunk not seen
as comical.
Everyone knows
ground rules.
Alcoholism is higher in cultures where

No ground rules.
Mixed messages from different
individuals and groups.
Getting drunk okay? Funny?
Heavy drinking is encouraged.
Drinking a sign of masculinity or
adulthood.
Media images of alcohol
Ireland has highest
heavy drinking rates
in Europe.
Youth bombarded
with alcohol ads.
Have begun to
restrict advertising.
Change the culture.