Could Evolution Lead To The End Of Alcoholism?

Could Evolution Lead To The End Of Alcoholism?

In Addiction, Article by Tree House Recovery

Alcoholism is a growing problem for mankind. Historically, we have had the ability to evolve out of what threatens our livelihoods and the livelihood of future generations. However, it seems, as technology progresses, our health is getting worse, and issues like cancer, alcoholism, or drug addiction, is threatening our ability to live our lives.

New research indicates we could be heading in the right direction when it comes to evolution and alcoholism. Newsweek reports on a new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution which examined genomes in 2,5000 people across four continents to understand how human genomes are changing.

Researchers examined gene variants, which is when DNA sequences change in such a way that its behavior changes. This can happen in individuals, the article explains, which is merely a mutation. When these changes happen consistently in multiple, potentially thousands of people in different areas around the world, it is a sign of some evolution occurring. Researchers discovered a few different gene variants around the world which indicate things like prevention against heart disease. Most interesting was a growing gene variant which indicated a tolerance to alcohol.

The ADH variant influences the way the human body metabolizes alcohol. What researchers discovered in the gene variant is the inability to metabolize alcohol. Meaning, humans are tolerating less alcohol than they have been able to in the past, preventing them from consuming large quantities of alcohol, typical in behaviors which lead to alcoholism. “As a result, even the smallest amount of alcohol would cause extremely unwell feelings,” the article explains, and “that it is unlikely these individuals would be able to physically consume enough alcohol for them to develop alcoholism.”

Such a discovery is not an end all solution to alcoholism and the gene variant is only showing up in select populations throughout West Africa and East Asia. The findings are, however, compelling. Some men in recovery from alcoholism turn to prescription medications which alter their brain chemistry in a way to make the idea of alcohol revolting. If they consume alcohol, they become ill. The result is supposed to be reduced cravings and an aversion to alcohol. Still, many men overpower the medication or stop taking it in order to go back to drinking. A question of great debate arises: if we cannot tolerate alcohol, will we still be able to abuse it? Until there is more research available, that question remains unknown. What we can admire, however, is the resiliency of the human body. What the human body did not do is evolve to tolerate more alcohol, or at least the high levels of alcohol many abuse themselves with today. Once again the body demonstrates its incredible strength and ability to transform itself.  

Thankfully, there is a way to heal. If you have found yourself trapped by the cycle of addiction, there is hope. Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon, shows men how to find freedom from addiction. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men reclaim their lives mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474