Yale Study: Genes May Explain Why Alcohol Detox is Particularly Hard for Some People

Detox
Yale Study Explains Why Detox Symptoms are Worse for Some, Not Others

New findings published in journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

Some heavy drinkers suffer intense withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking — some, less so.  A new Yale-led international study of individuals with alcohol dependence has identified gene variants that may help explain why “detox” from alcohol is particularly difficult for some people. The researchers report their findings September 25 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the official journal of the Research Society on Alcoholism.

Alcohol takes more lives in the United States every year than opioids, but there are few effective treatments to help people who have an alcohol use disorder,” said Andrew H. Smith, lead author of the study and a research affiliate in the laboratory of senior author Joel Gelernter, Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Genetics and of Neuroscience. “For people who experience intense withdrawal symptoms, that’s one more barrier they have to face while trying to reduce unhealthy alcohol use.”

Those physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are much worse than any hangover. Sudden cessation of alcohol consumption can lead to shakes, nausea, headaches, anxiety, fluctuations in blood pressure, and in the most serious cases, seizures.

The American team and collaborators in Denmark linked variants in the SORCS2 gene to the severity of alcohol withdrawal in people who have European ancestry, about one in ten of whom carry the variants. No such connection was found in African Americans. Intriguingly, the SORCS2 gene is important for activation of brain areas which respond to changes in the environment. The gene variants identified in the study may impinge on the ability of heavy drinkers to adapt to the sudden absence of alcohol, researchers speculate.

Better understanding of the many genes likely to be involved in withdrawal symptoms could ultimately lead to new medications that moderate these symptoms, which could help with the discontinuation of habitual alcohol use,” Gelernter said.

The research was primarily funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.


The Council on Recovery does not provide medical detox services, but does refer out to detox facilities in the Houston area. The Council provides outpatient services for people battling alcoholism, including Healing Choices, our intensive outpatient treatment program (IOP). Call 713.914.0556 for more information.

The Red Flag Warnings of Cocaine Use and Withdrawal

Although the opioid  epidemic has recently taken the spotlight and overshadowed the devastating impact of other substances, the use of cocaine has remained steady since 2009. Cocaine is a potent stimulant drug. It comes in a powder form and also a solid rock form typically known as ‘crack’. If you feel someone you know and love may have a problem with cocaine, there are many clear warning signals to look for.

Continue reading “The Red Flag Warnings of Cocaine Use and Withdrawal”

People with Substance Abuse Disorders More Likely to Have Mental Disorders…and Vice-Versa

People with a substance use disorder are more likely to experience a mental disorder and people with a mental disorder are more likely to have a substance use disorder when compared with the general population.Co-Occurring Disorders Head 1

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 45% of Americans seeking substance use disorder treatment have been diagnosed as having a co-occurring mental and substance use disorder. Those findings, reported in SAMHSA’s National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, support integrated treatment approaches like those used by The Council on Recovery’s Center for Recovering Families.

The Center for Recovering Families goes beyond conventional outpatient programs by utilizing the integrated approach for treating co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Integrated treatment addresses mental and substance use conditions at the same time and requires collaboration across disciplines. The Center’s integrated treatment planning addresses both mental health and substance abuse, each in the context of the other disorder. This planning is client-centered and better addresses clients’ goals by using treatment strategies that are acceptable to them.

Recent research, including the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, shows that integrated treatment is associated with lower costs and better outcomes such as reduced substance use, improved psychiatric symptoms and functioning, decreased hospitalization, increased housing stability, fewer arrests, and improved quality of life.

For individuals and families dealing with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, the Center for Recovering Families’ integrated treatment approach is creating new hope in the healing process. Contact the Center for Recovering Families at 713-914-0556.