For several years the popular theory behind alcoholism is that alcoholics have a delayed reaction to alcohol – therefore causing them to drink more. For instance, someone who drinks and feels the effects of the alcohol quickly is less likely to be an alcoholic. This way of thinking may be replaced with new findings from a six-year study.
In fact, scientists have noticed that those who feel the effects of alcohol quickly are more likely to become addicted. Andrea King, PhD, and a professor at the University of Chicago, points out that these new conclusions go against what we have typically believed about alcohol addiction in the past. And while alcohol is the most abuse drug in our society, it is surprising that we are still unsure of the cause of the addiction.
The study Dr. King and her team conducted consisted of 190 people that were not alcoholics. They were split into two groups. One group was given alcohol and the other was given a placebo. Those participants that were light drinkers felt more sedated, whereas those that were heavier drinkers felt more energy. Dr. King believes that feeling sedated is a defense that stops the person from binge drinking.
Additionally, these participants were followed up with six years later. Interviews with the participants supports the findings that the quicker the person feels the effects of alcohol the more likely they are to become addicted.
“There’s so much we don’t know about development of alcohol problems and becoming an alcoholic. We really wanted to look at how one’s response to alcohol may relate to these behaviors over time,” stated Dr. King.
These findings may be helpful to those who are struggling with addiction, or who notice that they are binge drinking. Binge drinking would consist of more than four drinks in a sitting. By being aware of some of the indicators of alcohol abuse we can target our preventative and educational efforts to those who seem to be participating in binge drinking.