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Eve11
December 27th, 2008, 02:23 AM
Hi Modders,
Found a very interesting article on this site (MWO) under research. Think the title was "Can alcoholism be treated?". It medically explains why we can have these crazy cravings. Read on and then I'll comment at the end once you've read. Here goes:

Campral, the first alcoholism drug to win Food & Drug Administration approval in 10 years, is designed to suppress alcohol cravings by targeting specific brain chemicals thrown out of balance by drinking.

Drugs that target the brain's addiction pathways can curb drinking.

Alcohol releases a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), instrumental in creating a sense of euphoria. Too much GABA can impair muscle control and slow reaction times, so the brain releases a stimulating chemical called glutamate to keep it in check. When alcohol is cut off, glutamate levels remain high and can cause irritability and discomfort. To relieve those feelings, the brain craves another drink. As more GABA and glutamate are released, brain cells change their structure to accommodate the excess chemicals, making them dependent on these levels. When alcohol is withdrawn, painful emotional and physical reactions are set off.

GABA may be the reason people drink, but glutamate is the reason they can't stop. This powerful neurotransmitter is a key player in the brain's learning centers, and excess amounts create deeply embedded memories of drinking. Years after a person quits, these memories can be triggered by a place, person, or even smell associated with drinking, setting off intense cravings. Such cue-induced cravings are the main reason for relapse. "They're why it can be easy to get off a drug, but it's very hard to stay off," says Dr. Herbert D. Kleber, director of the division on substance abuse at Columbia University.

Campral helps alcoholics resist these cravings by checking production of glutamate, bringing the brain's chemistry back into balance. Clinical studies of Campral have shown that after six months of treatment, 36% of patients were still abstinent, compared with 23.4% on placebo.
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So, I may have the answer to the question that plagues ME which is why can I drink sometimes, have one or two and can quit with ease while other times I am out of control and want to keep drinking and drinking? So, from this article I am thinking when I have those out of control times I have more glutamate than other times and that makes the cravings more intense. What I don't understand is WHY do I have more glutamate sometimes? What are the variables that are making that higher?

Would love to hear thoughts from fellow members - especially those that have researched this.

Eve11



Can Alcoholism Be Treated?
Research shows how stubborn addictions are -- and how medications may help

veritas
December 27th, 2008, 08:00 AM
Eve, I am sure that there are many factors that play a role.

I noticed that when I was younger my hormonal cycle played a role. When my eostrogen levels went up, I felt better and drank less. When I started to go through menopause and my eostrogen dropped, my drinking really got out of hand. I do remember reading somewhere that the biggest increase in alcohol abuse was in women over the age of forty.

I also used to do ulta distance running. Sometimes I would be on the road for hours at a time. During these periods, my alcohol tolerance decreased to almost normal. In actual fact, I remember that I would drink a beer after a very long run and almost pass out, I was so sensitive.

Many of my fellow runners would comment o how the effects of alcohol changed during periods of peak training. Running in itself can be an addction and many is the time that I experienced a real endorphin rush, or runners high.

Interesting experience on the memory cues and emotion.. I used to run sometimes listening to a walkman with pre-recorded music. I was standing in a department store one day and felt an absolute rush of happiness and I found it difficult to stand still. It was then that I realised that the store was playing one of my songs that I would use in my harder training sessions. The music had obviously released a rush of endorphins that had triggered and emotional high. I imagine that is what cocaine feels like.

Sunbeam
December 28th, 2008, 07:58 PM
Hi Eve,
I think there is a huge psychological piece to this, not just the physical presence or absence of glutamate. The physical and psychological pieces interact in very unexpected ways. I've thought about drinking memories, which seem to me something like phantom pain. We start by thinking of cravings as mostly physical, then slowly recognize the large number of psychological pieces. I personally think that the physical piece doesn't vary so much, but it's the psychological pieces that do vary and create your Vampire thinking and craving.

A Work in Progress
December 28th, 2008, 08:10 PM
Sunbeam, I think you expressed it very well. And all of this is even more confounding, because we have a hard time breaking the habit of believing that there is a genuine or "hard" distinction between the "physical" and the "psychological" aspects of our functioning... when, in fact, the two are simply different ways of looking at the same underlying processes. The experience of being reminded of something (being "triggered"), is just like the experience of consciously bringing a memory into awareness, or choosing to engage in a fantasy about drinking wine: it is a bio-electrical-chemical process in our brains. Overly simplistic explanations and focuses on neurotransmitters (such as dopamine and serotonin), or enzymes, or hormones, or blood sugar are just that.... oversimplifications of extremely complex processes that underlie our behavior, our thoughts, and our emotions...

Bottom line: we know we can change our behavior if we choose to do so, and we can do that most effectively if we carefully regulate our thinking and our emotional functioning, as well as our environments... And when we do this, we are changing our minds, and changing the very structure and functioning of our brains.

polaryzed
February 18th, 2009, 12:34 PM
2 Questions?

Color me uneducated until NOW.

The scenerio is as follows: I have entirely managed to omit hard liquor and beer from my AL intake since January 3, 2009. I have been monitoring my wine intake since finding MWO on January 27, 2009. The amount I drink has drastically changed for the better. However, my goal is to become AF.

Q 1. Do I understand correctly that certain forms of exercised (example Running) can actually affect ones brain and make one think differently about AL cravings?

Q2. Can certain foods (example chocolate) actually affect the way one craves AL?

It has been suggested that various meds. (example Kudzu etc.) could help, but being asthmatic, I need to do research before trying any meds. In addition, some of the threads in MWO have noted certain reactions to some meds, for some people.

Just trying to understand the "nature of the beast' and what I am up against to slay this dragon.
Your input is very much appreciated . . .

A Work in Progress
February 18th, 2009, 02:02 PM
Polar, I think that the current understanding about your two questions would probably sound like this: a good exercise program might diminish cravings, and eating chocolate might increase cravings, for alcohol. Also, you can definitely make choices about your own response to cravings; you can make them worse, by dwelling on them, deliberately engaging in positive fantasies about alcohol; you can make them not so bad, by shifting your attention to something else; by using distraction; by eating something healthy and/or drinking something healthy; by accepting that they are desires (and/or impulses) that will, given time, always pass away...