Pharmacology - Why is the dose for alcohol so high compared to other drugs?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by Pondlife, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. Pondlife

    Pondlife Platinum Member & Advisor

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    Feb 3, 2007
    from U.K.
    Why is the dose for alcohol so much higher than just about any other drug? This is a question I've been pondering for a while, and I wonder if the answer might give some insights into how and why alcohol affects the body in the way it does.

    A typical dose of alcohol for me is in the order of 70 grams: four 440 ml cans of beer at 5% ABV = 88 ml of alcohol or about 70 grams (Ethanol's specific gravity is about 0.8). I'm by no means a heavy drinker, and I assume that many people will consume in excess of 100 grams of alcohol in one session. This is several orders of magnitude greater than most other drugs, which are typically measured in milligrams or in some cases (e.g. LSD) micrograms.

    This suggests to me that alcohol must affect the body in a different way to most other drugs. At the effective dose levels, alcohol is not just a trace molecule that would be measured in ppm, it's a significant fraction of one percent of the body's water.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this, or pointers to the mechanism behind alcohol's intoxicating effect?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2007
  2. bcubed

    bcubed Gold Member

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    Feb 26, 2007
    from Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
    I believe it's because, unlike opiates and hallucinogens for example, that mimic natural bodily chemicals and are thus actively attracted to certain receptors, ethanol is far too simple a chemical and thus its effects are more general.

    However, according to Beyond the Influence, alcohol is broken down by the liver into acetylaldehyde (p. 21) and, once through the blood-brain barrier, chemically combines with "neurotransmitters" to produce tetrahydroisoquinolines (TIQs). The book (p. 48) shows the chemical structure of one of them (tetrahydorpaveroline) and compares it to morphine. (THP has two 6-carbon chains, with two hydroxyls each, plus another OH on the conecting carbons; morphine has the rings, but only one hydroxyl per chain and the 5th OH is replaced by a CH3.)

    The CLAIM is that the TIQs are present in greater quantities in alcoholics, explaining much of the disparate addictive potential noted. It should be cautioned, however, that this is a "recovery" book and thus might have a percentage in hyping the addictive potential of booze. Also, since the concentration of TIQs are supposedly dependent on the concentration of acetylaldehyde, taking Anatbuse ought to--in addition to making one quite ill--get one really high too. I have not heard of this phenomenon, ever.

    P.S. be happy with 88ml. my dosage (granted, he's 93kg) is 200-220ml.