The tendency to alcohol dependence does not result from morally assessable abnormalities such as a weakness of will or addiction to pleasure, but from such inconspicuous conditions as the ability to consume a lot of alcohol without feeling unpleasant after-effects, writes the German Medical Journal.
Many studies showed that genetic factors clearly contribute to the development of alcohol dependence – in people with severe disease progression, the genetic component is most pronounced and may be more important than environmental factors in the development of dependence.
Recently, scientists identified the site of attack of alcohol on the GABAA receptor. This is a relatively small “pocket” formed by 45 amino acids that mediates alcohol action on the ion channel of the GABAA receptor, the German Medical Journal continues. In addition, alcohol blocks transmission at the glutamatergic NMDA receptor (NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartate) . Thus, increasingly more alcohol can be consumed without excessive sedation. These findings could open a whole new chapter in the pharmacology of alcohol, the authors say.
Alkoholismus: Neurobiologie der Alkoholabhängigkeit (german)