Alcoholism is linked with a perceived need to self-medicate as, few alcoholic
beverages influence the same neural reactions as rapidly effective
The study, published in the latest issue of Nature Communications
, tested doses of intoxicating levels of alcohol on an animal model. Researchers observed the alcohol followed the same biochemical pathway as rapid antidepressants such as Ketamine, ultimately transforming an acid called GABA from an inhibitor to a stimulator of neural activity.
‘Depressed individuals may turn to drinking as a means to treat their depression as doses of intoxicating levels of alcohol acts as a stimulant of neural activity.’
Test subjects were shown to exhibit non-depressive behavior lasting at least 24 hours.
Principal investigator Kimberly Raab-Graham, an associate professor of
physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, says her team's
experiments strongly support the self-medication hypothesis.
"Because of the high co-morbidity between major depressive disorder and
alcoholism there is the widely recognized self-medication hypothesis,
suggesting that depressed individuals may turn to drinking as a means to treat
their depression," she said. "We now have biochemical and behavioral
data to support that hypothesis."
Raab-Graham cautioned, however, that relying on the intoxicating substance
can still pose a threat.
"There's definitely a danger in self-medicating with alcohol," she added.
"There's a very fine line between it being helpful and harmful, and at
some point during repeated use self-medication turns into addiction."