Genetic Test Predicts Counselor Liz Winchell’s Past
Last April Pat reported that Malibu Beach Recovery Center was chosen as one of ten treatment centers in the US chosen to participate in a clinical study to determine the effectiveness of a new test called GARS or the GENETIC ADDICTION RISK SCORE. Volunteers spit into test tubes which were then fedexed to Dominion Diagnostics in Rhode Island. Dominion used the saliva to evaluate 9 genes, and 17 (male) and 18 (Female) gene variants which it is believed can predict an individual’s predisposition to addiction.
Staffer Liz Winchell, now 17 years sober, was one of those who volunteered to be part of the study. When Malibu Recovery Center Neuroscience Adviser Dr. Kenneth Blum sent Liz her results she was flabbergasted.
“The test revealed that I have a genetic sensitivity (what AA would call, “an allergy”) to heroin and alcohol,” she told me in an interview. “It also showed a marker for hyperactivity, with the possibility of ADHD, and impulsivity.”
When I asked what made her volunteer to take the GARS test, she responded, “I know that science will one day confirm the hypotheses of 12 Step recovery: That there are biological differences in people who become addicts. I was very excited to participate in this study.”
I wondered if she believed before taking the test that results would show she were genetically predisposed to addiction.
“Absolutely, the correlations with the specific drugs themselves are unmistakeable. But even more interesting is the identification of the hyperactivity that explains my preference for, and paradoxical reaction to, stimulant drugs. It also explains my pattern of relapse, which was predominately without plan or conscious intention. More than anything, I think this piece of information will help others to build a recovery plan contingent upon impulse control.”
For Dr. Blum, Liz’s acknowledgement of the correlation between the test results and her own life and that of her famous father and grandfather, demonstrates the potential of the GARS model. Without ever meeting or speaking to her, the scientific team had been able to blindly describe the Reward Deficiency Syndrome behaviors which shaped her life. They are now calling for further study in what they believe to be “an important emerging field.”
Liz’s story was published today in the IIOAB Journal, 2013; Vol.4 (1):4-9.
The title of the study is “Neurogentic Impairments of Brain Reward Circuitry Links to Eurogetic Impairments of Reward Deficiency Syndrme (RDS) as evidence by Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS).
Way to go, Liz!