"Alcohol tolerance" refers to the diminishing physiological, behavioral and subjective effects of alcohol that occur with repeated exposure to the drug. A study in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research uses flies to define the genetic and mechanistic underpinnings of different forms of tolerance.
"Tolerance is important and relevant to human drinking because its development both promotes and facilitates increasing intake of alcohol," said Karen H. Berger, senior scientist at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center. "Rapid and chronic tolerance are produced by different types of previous experience with alcohol. 'Rapid tolerance' results from a single intoxicating dose, whereas 'chronic tolerance' is produced by repeated or continuous exposure to alcohol over longer periods of time."
"Theories about the root causes of alcoholism often invoke the development of tolerance as an important event," added John Crabbe, director of the Portland Alcohol Center. "For example, if one must keep drinking more in order to get the same happy feeling, it is easy to see how with greater tolerance there could be a greater chance of developing into a problem drinker. Also, anyone who has developed enough of a drinking problem to earn a diagnosis of alcohol dependence or alcoholism has developed a great deal of chronic tolerance. Thus, tolerance is not only a part of the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence and alcoholism, but it may also be important for understanding the changes in brain mechanisms that lead some to develop probl