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Are addiction and dependence the same thing? Part 2

Jun 22

The overstimulation of the brain's natural reward mechanism produces intensely euphoric and pleasurable sensations that actors strongly motivate people to seek out more of it. Unfortunately, if we keep on taking an engaging in these behaviours and flooding our reward systems, over time the brain attempts to adapt to these chronically elevated levels of dopamine. The brain actually reduces the number of receptors for that label to respond to dopamine signals, with special channels being inserted to remove dopamine from the circuit. 

It also means that dopamine release is reduced as well, with your ability to feel pleasure now drastically reduced. You experience tolerance, a state where you need to experience more and more of that substance or action in order to release the same amount of dopamine. This explains the predominance of seeking behaviours commonly seen in long term addiction. Eventually, areas outside of the reward pathways are affected to brain regions involved in decision making, judgments and even memory begin to physically change, with some areas having neurons added and some areas dying away. 

The overall effect is to make drug seeking behaviour become driven by habit rather than conscious thoughts. Almost like a reflex. In effect, that person's brain has become hijacked, concentrated on the sole purpose of seeking out more and more of the addictive substance. Whatever the cost, not everyone who tries a drug will become an addict. So why do some people develop strong addictions while others don't? We can split the answer into three main reasons genetics, environment and development you've probably come across someone describing themselves as having an addictive personality. In fact, recent research suggests that up to 75% of the likelihood of developing addiction comes from your genetics. These biological differences can make a person more or less vulnerable to addiction and can influence the strength of any withdrawal symptoms experienced if they attempt to quit an addiction is quite clearly a complex trait and is most likely influenced by multiple different genes. No one is born destined to develop an addiction. So what else is at work here?

The next point is a social environment and that plays a significant role in rewiring your reward system. For example, if you've got a stable relationship or doing great at work, you're going to feel pretty good. It's thought that people who don't have much stimulation of their reward pathways through social environmental interactions are more likely to seek out addictive activities as a way to stimulate their own neglected reward pathways. One study found that monkeys lower down on the social hierarchy didn't receive as many social benefits such as grooming are much more likely to self administer cocaine and other borderfree The monkey is higher up in the social ladder. Now comes the last point of development. We know that addiction can happen at any age. But we also know that the earlier in life someone tries drugs, the more likely it is that they will develop an addiction.

The brain doesn't finish developing until your mid 20s in particular area that continues to mature during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, the parts of the brain responsible for reasoning, keeping your emotions under control, and making decisions. We all know how rebellious teenagers are wanting to go out to odd hours try new things fight back against what they perceive to be parental or social tyranny, as they tried to find themselves unfortunately, this means that the adolescent brain is hardwired for taking risks and making poor decisions. This extends to things like trying drugs or continuing to take them which is why intervention in this group is especially important to prevent lifelong problems.

No one chooses how their brain is going to react and there is no single factor that determines whether a person will be punished because it's one not nonetheless, it's a real problems that millions of people face every day. Get Directions Link