Addiction not character flaw


Addiction not character flaw, Judy Collins says

Judy Collins says just saying "no" is just not that easy.

The folk singer says the famous anti-drug campaign wrongly looks at drug and alcohol addiction as a character flaw. "It assumes that those who are locked up because of it just didn't have the willpower to carry out their plan for the evening," Collins told the Tennessean in an interview published Sunday.

Collins, a former alcoholic who has abstained from liquor and drugs for 20 years, said she began drinking as a 15-year-old to mask the shame and pain that her own father's alcoholism caused her. Her only son, Clark, a drug addict and an alcoholic, killed himself in 1992.

Young men who showed little effect from the equivalent of rapidly drinking three and five beers were much more likely to become alcoholics than men who felt very drunk, a study found.

The effect appeared not only among offspring of alcoholics, who are at increased risk of alcoholism, but also in other men.

The finding may help prevent alcoholism by persuading children of alcoholics to become abstainers if they can drink others under the table, said study author Dr. Marc Schuckit.

At the least, he said, it should warn them that if they drink until they feel like stopping, it may be too much.

The finding carries the same message for people who are not children of alcoholics, although the relative insensitivity to alcohol appears to be less common in them, he said.

The work is reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Schuckit is a psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Diego, Medical School and director of the Alcohol Research Centre of the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Centre.

His study related the alcohol response of 223 men, who were around age 20 when tested, to their risk of alcoholism by the time they were contacted again an average of 9.3 years later.

The testing used two alcohol doses that produced the same blood alcohol concentrations as drinking about three and five beers within 10 minutes. The larger dose would get somebody legally drunk in most states, Schuckit said.

The men's response was assessed with some biological markers and two indicators used in the new analysis: body swaying and a questionnaire that asked men how much they felt intoxicated, sleepy, nauseous and other sensations.

By the time of the followup, 42 of the 124 men with alcoholic fathers and 13 of the 98 other men had become alcoholics. Men with alcoholic mothers had been excluded from the study because of worries they might have different risk factors for alcoholism.

The 20 per cent of men who had shown the least reaction to alcohol had a 43 per cent rate of alcoholism, versus 11 per cent for the one-fifth of the men showing the greatest reaction.