The National Geographic Magazine, September, 2017, reports: “Scientists are challenging the view that addiction is a moral failing and researching treatments that could offer an exit from the cycle of desire, bingeing, and withdrawal that traps tens of millions of people. Addiction hijacks the brain’s neural pathways. By analyzing brain scans of recovering cocaine addicts, clinical neuroscientist Anna Rose Childress, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, studies how subliminal drug cues excite the brain’s reward system and contribute to relapse.”
Written by Fran Smith, source: National Geographic
My reflection: No one knows whether the risk of becoming addicted is due to genetics, trauma, stress, or other factors, but science continues to support the fact that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. They are discovering how addiction changes the brain’s chemistry and how it must be retrained for long-term sobriety to take shape.
Today’s Promise to consider: Brain chemistry is altered with addiction – this has been proven by research. Addict’s brains are highjacked by the cycle of desire that drugs and alcohol create. With increased understanding, doctors are experimenting with ways of regaining chemical balance by using electromagnetic waves, medication, psychotherapy, support groups, even mindfulness training. The answer is not incarceration, but treatment.
Three of the most interesting and surprising effects that drugs have on the brain are;
That dopamine is a natural chemical that the body out the produces, it is a part of the brains reward system. It creates cravings to help us to survive, like eating, pleasure, interacting. As dopamine flows through, drug usage increases dopamine and goes to throughout the brain craving circuit where brain nerve cells called neurons begin to form habits that a person may have done, like buying drugs or smoking.
Increased amounts of dopamine go to the prefrontal cortex and mix with amino acid glutamate which prompts a individual to have images of drug use, to have visions of peraphanalia and strong cravings are produced.
Thirdly; Excessive amounts of dopamine released into the brain through drug usage can cause dopamine circuits to overwhelm the pleasure hotspots, addiction occurs and the brain is hijacked. In other words, the brain can become under the control of the impulses and cravings that are created and produced from excessive releases of dopamine.
A drug called amygdala mixed with dopamine causes neurons to be stimulated by learned emotional responses like memories of pleasure.
1. Please view this brief video regarding “How Science is Unlocking the Secrets of Addiction,” and discuss three things that you learned as a result of watching this video and how it contributes to your knowledge regarding addiction https://libbycataldi.com/blog/science-unlocking-secrets-addiction/
I realize, more than ever, that we all seek pleasure, and that can move to craving and dependence. This is universal, a cycle of reward that can capture anyone, a chemical reality and chemical trap. Desire can give way to bingeing, the absence of chemical reward to withdrawal: “Your reward system is hijacked.”
Dopamine rewards us chemically for positive behaviors (from a survival standpoint) like eating a procreating. It can be hijacked chemically, so that we associate rewards with certain memories and experiences. This really helped me understand that the addiction of, say, smoking, also has a lot to do with the learned experience of tapping a cigarette and sharing a match, which in themselves do not introduce nicotine into our system. This involves the dorsal striatum, which builds a history of pleasurable habits.
“When dopamine’s craving circuitry overwhelms the brain’s pleasure hotspots, addiction occurs.” I have never heard that put so succinctly and memorably.
The video also clarified the different impacts of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin on dopamine’s path and absorption:
Cocaine blocks dopamine transporters, preventing the removal of excess dopamine from synapses.
Meth floods the terminals of neurons, displacing dopamine into synapses.
Heroin, on the other hand, blocks dopamine inhibitors, so there’s no restraint on the flood of the neurotransmitter.
I guess that’s more than three, AND the video is terrific. Just the right pace, amount of information, and surp
Thanks, Allen. I’ll watch the video. Libby
I see that it’s the video from the blog. Thanks for your thorough response. xo
Thanks, Timothy, for your comments. Yes, the brain is hijacked and the addict loses control. Allen also replied to your comment and sent a video that might be interesting to you.