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Anxiety and Alcoholism and Stigma

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

The April 2008 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience reported an important finding linking anxiety with alcoholism. The research seems to confirm the widely held theory that many people drink as a way to self medicate their problems. In this case the problem that is being medicated away is anxiety. What is also significant about the findings is that this very same mechanism of reducing anxiety makes withdrawal from alcohol difficult because anxiety increases as people withdraw.

It seems that researchers have discovered that for some people with anxiety disorders and who are exposed to alcohol usage undergo a change in their DNA, the foundation stone for their chromosomes. This then causes minor chemical changes in the brain that makes withdrawal and from alcohol use much more difficult than for others.

Once again, it seems evident that addiction is a genetically based disease and not a problem of poor choice and low morals.

Research is centering on new forms of medications that can relieve the increased anxiety associated with alcohol withdrawal that makes sobriety difficult for those individuals.

It is my hope that as more research is done and more is learned about the addictions the stigmatization of those with addictions will end. This along with the broad tendency to stigmatize those with mental illnesses is very damaging.

What are your thoughts?

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