J-315-01-06DAAT5.4Decemberinsides 3/2/06 12:10 pm Page 2 Editorial: Genetics and the future of addiction Gary Hayes, Editor Genetic science is pushing our understanding Genetics we must not forget is not new and of the human body into new and uncertain manipulation of genes is synonymous with areas. It is revolutionising our ability not only to being human. Breeding animals and cultivating see what makes us, but also to engineer who new strains of crops to suit our own needs is we are.This is such a momentous step and we the bedrock of civilisation. are still trying to get our heads round it. Why then do we find the prospect of genetic Historically new science has always been engineering so threatening? By and large the resisted, usually by religion, politics or law. fear is that of the unknown.We fear what might Today moral and theological codes have be and, in the case of genetics, the effects that been replaced by ethical ones – and in the modifications may have on our life, our eco- case of genetics, upheld by medical systems and ultimately on our sense of discipline and the courts.Yet despite laws to humanity. prevent and control its development, such That is why in our search for genetic as the current ban on human cloning, it is explanations of behaviour, we must always look only a matter of time before human cloning deeper to find the human spirit, not deny it.As is not only tolerated but commonplace. Craig Reinarman warns in his critique of While we can envisage the body as a addiction determinism (page 32), no matter how machine, conceptualising the mind as an much we know about genetics, we are still faced automaton is not so easy. Mechanistic models of with the suffering of people who use drugs and the mind, such as behaviourism, while helpful alcohol to excess and are bound to help them are by no means comprehensive and by and find hope and their own understanding of life large fail to conceptualise the essence of being and their own way out of their problems. human and the power of free will. More to the In our bid to help these people, we invariably point, there is no science of the mind that can have counter preconceptions and unforgiving fully predict human behaviour, without attitudes and policies. degrading or misrepresenting it.Yet, despite this There is no escaping the resonance of barrier, genetic science has set itself exactly that genetic science with drug use. Both awaken task. Geneticists are moving into the field of fears of the unknown and demand controls.Yet, addiction, and they are coming up with despite regulation, both will prevail. Continuing surprising results. our look at drug policy, criminologist Henry In our feature article Tamara Phillips and John Shaftoe explains why he thinks the current Crabbe explain why genes can determine drug laws are causing more harm than good. addictive behaviours. Experiments with lab We also take a look also at alcohol policy mice for example show how a single gene and the relevance of temperance in today’s determines the ability to metabolise alcohol binge drink nation.Virginia Berridge explains and avoid hangovers. In mice genetically why she believes the Victorian temperance disposed to bad hangovers, alcohol is avoided, movement has a lot to offer us today in while those that can avoid hangovers, love it. terms of partnerships, policy development This has got the geneticists excited because and approaching women drinkers.This is the same genetic make-up that causes a mouse followed closely by today’s face of to feel ill when drinking is also found in 40% of temperance, the Institute of Alcohol Studies. East Asians who tend to drink less than those We find out their new role in policy and that don’t. how they are shaping our understanding of There is more to drink than avoiding drink and its harms. hangovers however. David Arthur from Hong Finally,Alexandra Constantinou unravels Kong presents for the first time data that the mixed messages about drinking during challenges the widely-held idea that the pregnancy and explains why even light Chinese don’t drink to excess and uncovers a drinking can cause long-term damage to the country only just waking up to many a bad foetus. hangover. email@example.com 2 Drugs and Alcohol Today • Volume 5 Issue 4 • December 2005 © Pavilion
Drugs and Alcohol Today – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2005
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