Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef founded Fairwinds Treatment Center in 1989 on the belief that addiction is almost always caused or exacerbated by underlying psychological, mental and/or emotional issues. Twenty-five years ago and still today, too few addiction treatment professionals recognize the link between substance abuse and issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Unfortunately, attempting to treat addiction without also addressing these underlying conditions often results in a failed recovery, like putting a band-aid on a broken arm. A recent, cutting-edge genetic study from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) sheds light on the connection between mental health and addiction, finding that a specific gene variant may influence a person's anxiety levels as well as their risk of alcoholism.
The Scripps researchers linked the Nf1 gene variant to excessive drinking among laboratory test mice, as well as to the release of a neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and creates a relaxed mental state. Mice with the Nf1 gene were more likely to become addicted to alcohol, and experienced a greater release of the neurotransmitter when they drank.
The research team then worked with geneticists to analyze the DNA of about 9,000 people, and found a similar relationship between the Nf1 gene and alcoholism risk among humans.When these people drink, their brains release more of the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter, which may mean that they are using alcohol to manage feelings of unease — reinforcing the connection between mental conditions and physical addiction.
"As [the neurotransmitter] release in the central amygdala has been shown to be critical in the transition from recreational drinking to alcohol dependence, we thought that Nf1 regulation of [the neurotransmitter] might be relevant to alcohol consumption," TSRI Research Associate Melissa Herman says in a press release.
The long and short of it: Scientific research continues to reinforce Dr. El-Yousef's long-held belief that it is not enough to just treat a person's substance abuse — healthcare providers must also consider contributing factors such as anxiety and depression, which are often caused by a genetic predisposition. That's why Fairwinds Treatment Center uses its unique dual diagnosis methodology to promote healing on the inside and out. Our personalized plans combine clinical treatment and therapeutic counseling to help our patients achieve a lasting recovery that is more than just skin deep.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, know that wellness is possible. You simply won't find a better place to heal and find peace than Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida, one of the best alcohol treatment centers in the world. Contact us today to learn more.