Epigenetics & Alcohol

In the April 2nd, 2008 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers have found that changes in the chemical scaffolding that helps to control the expression of DNA in the brain may play a very important role in withdrawal symptoms, and especially in the experience of anxiety, in people trying to abstain from alcohol.  The study of the way that proteins that surround the genes control gene expression is called epigenetics (epi- meaning around and -genetics referring to the genes). 

If you are trying to stop drinking or working daily to maintain your sobriety, this information may help you understand  the root of some of the feelings you have.  A part of it may be simply chemical/genetic even if you have not had a drink for a few hours, days, weeks, or years.  Many natural substances can be used to affect the expression of genes in the brain.  However, this is often done on a case by case basis, based upon what works for each patient.  Unfortunately, there is not any scientific research yet that tells us how to definitively compensate for these changes, but clinical decisions are based upon what makes sense and what provides results.

Be Well,

Richard

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