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Low Level of Response at Early Age Is an Alcoholism Indicator

Posted in Abused Drugs

It is logical to believe that those who have a high tolerance for alcohol could be at a greater risk for developing alcohol-use disorders (AUDs). This high tolerance – or relatively little reaction – to alcohol is also known as a low level of response (LR).

Science Daily recently reported on a study that examined the influence of LR in conjunction with other characteristics and found that it is a unique risk factor for AUDs. This research suggests that LR is not just a reflection of a broader range of risk factors.

"Other studies we have published have shown that these individuals also choose heavy drinking peers, which helps them believe that what they drink and what they expect to happen in a drinking evening are ‘normal.’ This low LR, which is perhaps a low sensitivity to alcohol, is genetically influenced," explained Marc A. Schuckit, in Science Daily.

Schuckit is the director of the Alcohol Research Center, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and corresponding author for the study.

The results of the study indicate that a low LR to alcohol effectively predicted AUD occurrence over the span of adulthood even when effects of other robust risk factors were controlled. A low LR at a young age predicts later heavy drinking and alcoholism and not just being a heavier drinker. The onset of alcoholism is certain even if all other predictors are controlled.

According to Schuckit, those who know they are an alcoholic should inform their children that they are at least four times as likely to develop alcoholism as low LR is genetic. Research teams are searching for ways to identify the risk early in life as well as ways to decrease the risk, even for those who carry a low LR.