Molecular biology teases out two distinct forms of alcoholism.
lcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death (defined as death due to lifestyle choice or modifiable behavior). In the United States alone it accounts for more than 75,000 deaths annually. To put it another way, if all cancers were miraculously cured tomorrow, those lives and the life years saved would be a drop in the bucket compared to what would be achieved by eliminating alcohol-related death and morbidity. In contrast to many other common conditions, alcohol abuse affects people whose life expectancy would otherwise be considerable, robbing them of an average 30 potential life years. The unmet medical needs are enormous.
And yet, as striking as these numbers are, they don't begin to capture the despair and sorrow of alcohol problems. I had been...
And yet, as striking as these numbers are, they don't begin to capture the despair and sorrow of alcohol problems. I had been teaching students about the pharmacology of addictive drugs for several years before I met my first patient as a clinician. Knowing alcoholic patients, and understanding their day to day struggle has shaped my thinking about the problem and informed the questions I have asked in the laboratory.