Heredity studies, done all over the world, clearly show that genetics is far more significant in determining whether or not you will be an alcoholic than any other single factor examined. Genetics is far more significant than any combination of social or environmental factors examined.

I am not saying a person is born an alcoholic; but I think it’s conclusive that some people are indeed predisposed to alcoholism because of their heredity and if they ever start drinking, they run an unbelievably high risk of developing the disease.

THIQ – Biochemical Culprit

Diabetes and heart disease have a high family predisposition. When medical science notices a family predisposition toward a disease, it will look for some abnormality in the body chemistry. Below is an abridged version of the findings of Medical Scientist Virginia Davis as she studied the body chemistry of alcoholics?

Virginia Davis had discovered in the brains of the chronic alcoholics a substance that is closely related to heroin. This substance is called Tetrahydroisoquinoline, or (fortunately) THIQ for short.

When a person shoots heroin into his body, some of it breaks down and turns into THIQ. However, the people in Virginia’s studies hadn’t been using heroin; they had just been simple alcoholics. So how did the THIQ get there?

When the normal adult drinker consumes alcohol, it’s very rapidly eliminated at the rate of about one drink per hour. The body first converts the alcohol into something called acetaldehyde. This is very toxic stuff, and if it were to build up inside us, we would get violently sick and indeed we could die. The body efficiently changes acetaldehyde a couple of more times – into carbon dioxide and water – which is then eliminated through the kidneys and lungs. That’s what happens to normal drinkers.

This processing of alcohol also happens with alcoholic drinkers, BUT- a very small amount of poisonous acetaldehyde is not eliminated; instead it goes to the brain where, through a very complicated biochemical process, it winds up as THIQ.

First, THIQ is manufactured right in the brain, and it occurs only in the brain of the alcoholic drinker; it doesn’t happen in the brain of the normal social drinker. Second, THIQ has been found to be highly addictive. It was tried in experimental use with animals during the Second World War, when we were looking for a painkiller less addicting than morphine. THIQ was a pretty good pain-killer, but it turned out to be much more addicting than morphine. Third, There are certain kinds of rats that cannot be made to drink alcohol. Put them in a cage with a very weak solution of vodka and water, and they will refuse to touch it; they will literally thirst to death. But, put an unbelievable minute quantity of THIQ into that rat’s brain – the animal will immediately drink the vodka and water.

Other studies have been done with monkeys, our closest animal relatives in medical terms. We’ve learned that once THIQ is injected into a monkey’s brain, it stays there. You can keep a THIQ’ed monkey dry, off alcohol for 7 years; then when you study his brain, the THIQ is still there.

Remember that person who’s been sober for 10-25 years, and then suddenly starts drinking again? The alcoholic will immediately show the same symptoms displayed years before. The human alcoholic is still carrying THIQ.

Now alcoholics don’t intend for their brains to manufacture something stronger than morphine. Most normal drinkers take a drink now and then, and the young alcoholics-to-be want to be normal. Unfortunately, the alcoholics-to-be do not metabolize alcohol the same as a normal drinker. That first drink will begin the process of the THIQ build-up. Some progress slowly, others progress quickly. But once the THIQ builds enough power, the substance becomes in command and the addict is owned by that substance until he or she is educated on addiction and how to put it in remission.

In my first month of recovery, I read the THIQ article and The Doctors Opinion. Between these two documents, I was relieved beyond belief! I finally understood that I had a legitimate disease. I heard addiction was a disease, but I did not believe this because I continued to lose control of my drinking. The compulsion for “more” was unbearable and often embarrassing.

The problem, as I understand it today, is that I was trying to “control my use”. I wanted to be a normal drinker. In my personal recovery journey, learning new coping skills, reward systems and education through the 12-step program, meeting many new friends with my disease, and studying numerous readings (because I find them fascinating), I have learned that to “control my use” I must exercise that “control” before the 1st drink. Otherwise, if I use, I trigger the THIQ and the choice (control) is no longer mine.

Share this information with the addicts in your life and I pray they have the same profound success in sobriety and ability to thrive in life as I have personally realized since February of 2006. Once the alcoholic or addict knows the facts, he or she can take the responsibility of stopping the use by refusing to put more THIQ in their brains or refuse to reactivate the THIQ that is already there.

Caution: Treatment (medically assisted detox and mental health reprogramming) is recommended because abrupt abstinence can result in seizures. Seizures can cause irreversible brain damage.

I welcome questions from family or from the alcoholic or addict in your life.

Shannon Rozell, MPA, (248) 254-3255

Solid Landings Behavioral Health, VP Business Development


  1. Alcoholism is a disease.
  2. Alcoholism is not the alcoholic’s fault.
  3. Alcoholics can get proper treatment for the disease, which begins with learning the facts about remission.
  4. The alcoholic can be relieved of guilt.
  5. The alcoholic can take on responsibility for arresting their disease.
  6. The alcoholic can refuse to put more THIQ in their brains and refuse to activate the THIQ that is already there.
  7. Alcoholics can and do recover.
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