Are Differences in the Disulfiram-Alcohol Reaction the Basis of Racial Differences in Biological Sensitivity to Ethanol?

  • Arthur R. Zeiner


Ingestion of alcohol is a prerequisite for becoming an alcoholic. However, neither do all people drink alcohol equally nor are they all equally at risk for becoming alcoholics. There are large individual differences in both alcohol use and abuse. Such data leave the researcher with perplexing questions. Why is it that some people choose not to drink (for other than financial or religious reasons), why are some others indifferent to alcohol and why do some people prefer to drink alcohol? What factors govern the self-selection of alcoholic beverages? In partial answer to some of these questions, it has been proposed that there exist differences in biological sensitivity to alcohol which may modulate the self-selection process (Kalow, 1962; Wolff, 1972). Implicit in the biological sensitivity hypothesis is the notion that some people experience predominantly pleasant effects from alcohol ingestion whereas others experience mainly unpleasant effects. Further, it is assumed that the experience of pleasant-unpleasant effects has a biological basis.


Heart Rate Increase Ethanol Ingestion Blood Alcohol Concentration Acetaldehyde Concentration Acute Dose 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur R. Zeiner
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterUSA

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