NIAAA Director Dr George Koob discusses alcohol addiction

NIAAA Director Dr George Koob discusses alcohol addiction


About 90,000 people a year die from
alcohol use disorder. That includes everything from liver disease to
accidents to driving deaths. A major benefit of the focus on the opioid
crisis is that there is now a big initiative to treat addiction in general. Because alcohol use disorder is one of the major addictions in the United
States; there are about 15 million individuals without alcohol use disorder,
probably 2 to 3 million with opioid use disorder, I think the focus on the opioid
crisis is is really going to help in the domain of treating addictions in general. The increase in emergency room visits that we see in the United States may be
related to a phenomenon that we call high intensity drinking. So a binge is defined as reaching the legal limit, point .08, in about two hours. That’s about four drinks for a female and five drinks for a male of average weight in a two
hour period. High-intensity drinking is drinking two times or three times that
amount, and you’re actually easily reaching levels for an alcohol-related
blackout and even alcohol related death When you think about opiates or you
think about alcohol, many individuals actually start thinking about obtaining
more drug and seeking out more drug because they fear what they’re going to
feel like when they don’t have their favorite drug on board. We are making advances in the domain of understanding drug addiction and alcohol addiction as
a brain disease or a brain disorder. There’s a chemical imbalance in addiction and we
need to address that dysregulation. That your brain, to put it very simply is out of
whack and there are things you can do to bring it back into the normal range
should be encouraging to people, because addiction can be treated. What we’re trying to do is understand ways we can diagnose, that we can prevent, and that we
can treat addiction. The research being done here at the University of Florida has a lot of potential in helping understand addiction in
general, but understanding the brain and translating that to helping people. 50% of Americans drink at least,
most don’t have a problem. But that small group of
individuals that have a problem it can be devastating; devastating to them,
devastating to their family, it causes us a great deal of suffering. In effect we’re trying to relieve that suffering and I think we can do it, I really do.

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