Aaron White, PhD is a prominent Addictions Expert and Program Director at NIAAA, a division of the prestigious NIH. Dr White is most famous for discovering some fascinating parallels between inebriated rats and alcoholics that explain the heretofore poorly understood phenomenon known as the ‘blackout’. For example, he showed that a drunken rat’s inability to remember its location in a maze explains why the alcoholic will have absolutely no memory of smashing a chair over someone’s head in a bar fight until he is reminded of it or gets drunk again. Also, the intoxicated rat’s disinterest in cheese residue corresponds to the addict’s tendency to ignore otherwise obvious signs of STDs in sexual partners.
AddictionMyth recently sat down with Dr White via email to discuss his fascinating research and the exciting promise it holds for the treatment of alcoholism, the degenerative disease whose symptoms include unintentional naughty behavior and amnesia of that same behavior sometimes accompanied by close brushes with imminent death; and whose only known cure requires the humbling (if liberating) public admission that you have it.
AddictionMyth: You discovered some fascinating connections between rats and alcoholics. They are more alike then anyone previously thought. Did you also find that rats continued to crave alcohol even after the experiment was over? What happened when you restored them to a natural environment? Did they continue to demand access to their drug of choice, and use it compulsively until death?