THIQ and Alcohol Use Disorders
Many people understand that alcohol is addictive. While some people can binge drink every once in a while, others have a compulsion to continue drinking no matter what. Alcohol use disorder, once called alcoholism, has been a confusing disease to study.
How Alcohol Affects the Brain
Why do some people who abuse alcohol can quit easily, while other people are driven to continue drinking no matter what? Science and psychiatry have been searching for a definitive answer for years. The disease model has been proven in many small ways.
We know for sure that people with addictions have changes in the brain. For one thing, when people drink, the brain releases dopamine, a "feel-good" neurotransmitter. Dopamine, in essence, is the pleasure center of your brain. When you drink, your brain also releases serotonin, another neurotransmitter. Seratonin can cause a numbing, feel-good effect as well.
The Discovery of THIQ
Research by a medical scientist named Virginia Davis introduced more evidence for the disease model of alcoholism when she discovered THIQ in alcohol-addicted brains. The chemic THIQ, also known as tetrahydroisoquinoline or THIQ, typically was a byproduct of heroin use. As heroin breaks down in the system, it creates THIQ.
Ms. Davis was researching the human brain and cancer. For her studies, she often researched using the brains of homeless people who were usually alcoholics. (This was the 1970's, and she would get access to corpses of these men and women soon after death. Laws about such things were different back then!)
One day, when researching the brain's chemicals, she discovered that the alcoholics had a chemical in their brain that had previously only been seen in heroin addicts. When she mentioned this to her colleagues, they laughed at the idea. Most of these corpses were "skid row" drinkers, and there was no way they could afford a heroin habit as well. Yet there they were, with a chemical that previously had only been manufactured by the brain when a person was on heroin.
THIQ and Alcohol Addiction
Today, we now know that people with opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder have chemical reactions in the brain that make them addicted. It's also true that not everyone has these chemical reactions in their brains. Science hasn't yet discovered why one person may become addicted, and another can use alcohol or even binge drink and then walk away.
While science is still looking for a genetic cause, the fact of the matter is that recovery is possible no matter the mechanism of becoming addicted.
While your brain may be chemically addicted to alcohol, it's possible to detox, get, and stay sober. Recovery is possible no matter who you are or how much you drank.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction
If you or somebody you care about has an alcohol problem, help is available. Recovery is a journey that starts with reaching out and admitting you need help. Together, we can plan your treatment and help you get started. Give us a call at 619-363-4767 to learn more about how we can help!
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