AAAOM - Linked Professor Sees Genetic Base for Coke Addiction



A prominent addictions researcher linked to the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) helped lead recently published research on the role of genetics in cocaine dependence. Kenneth Blum, PhD, had formerly received wide publicity for his role in a controversial study reporting similar findings of a genetic pattern underlying severe alcoholism.

An announcement last summer introduced the American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders (ACACD) to the field. This organization was to serve as the provider of a new acupuncture for addictions training package that AAAOM was proposing to offer to health professionals (See Guidepoints, Oct, '93). Blum, as a co-founder of ACACD, confirmed to Guidepoints that he would be lecturing extensively in the proposed program, especially in the topic areas of psychopharmacology and molecular genetics. At presstime, AAAOM had not yet scheduled any presentations for the full addictionology training course.

Blum wrote the cocaine paper with former National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) head Ernest Noble and eleven other scientists. The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence published the article late last year in Vol. 33, pp 271-285 (Elsevier Scientific Publishers Ireland Ltd.) The article gives evidence to suggest that a gene located on human chromosome 11 confers susceptibility to cocaine dependence. The study took interview, laboratory and historical data from 53 Caucasian (non-Hispanic) males who were cocaine dependent. Compared to other selected population groups, these men had a significantly higher prevalence of certain alleles of the D2 dopamine receptor gene. (Previous field literature supports dopamine involvement in the cocaine addiction process.) Those in the study group with the highest levels of the Al allele were also much more likely to have alcoholic parents, a history of deviant behavior (including pre-drug use behavior) and a tendency to use cocaine via the most potent routes. The study authors concluded from their data "that cocaine dependent subjects, like some alcoholics, may have a contributing molecular genetic basis for their disorder." Limitations of the study require that "generalizations from the present results must be approached with caution," the article concludes.

Blum told Guidepoints that he has "been a friend of acupuncture for a long time" and has written scientific papers on the subject. He subscribes to an addictions treatment strategy that says "to use all the standard armamentarium and don't eliminate anything that helps" including counseling and mutual help groups. He said he was aware of some of the controversy about the training and licensing of clinicians in the acupuncture for addictions field. His own main concern, though, was to increase the understanding of acupuncture by mainstream physicians. Kenneth Blum, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center, 7703 Floyd Curl Dr, San Antonio, TX, 78284. (210) 567-4200.

J&M Reports, LLC.

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