There are two types of alcoholics, anxiety-prone (Type I) and impulsive (Type II) based on Cloninger’s typology, according to the article. The researchers looked at post-mortem brains from both types of alcoholics and a control group.
“From the viewpoint of the study setting, this division was made in order to highlight the wide spectrum of people suffering from alcohol dependence. The reality, of course, is far more diverse, and not every alcoholic fits into one of these categories,” said Olli Kärkkäinen, M.Sc. (Pharm).
Typically, Type I alcoholics are more prone to anxiety and are more likely to become dependent on alcohol later in life, the article reports. On the other hand, Type II alcoholics usually become dependent on alcohol when they are younger and show greater impulsivity and antisocial behavior. In Type I alcoholic brains, the researchers found:
- Changes in the endocannabinoid system, which modulates stress responses.
- Increased Docosahexaenoylethanolamide levels in the amygdala, possibly linked to their anxiety prone nature.
“These findings enhance our understanding of changes in the brain that make people prone to alcoholism and that are caused by long-term use. Such information is useful for developing new drug therapies for alcoholism, and for targeting existing treatments at patients who will benefit the most,” said Kärkkäinen, the study findings were part of his doctoral thesis.