Studies

Addiction is a Brain Disease

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This means that there are two types of addiction: behavioral addiction and substance dependence. This can be harmful for oneself and for others. Furthermore, it is important to distinguish between a habit and an addiction: a habit is what a person chooses to do, and there is no physical and physiological aspect to it, till you become so used to that substance that you cannot do without it. With addiction you also cannot survive on the same doses every time. you need to increase the dosage every time in order to satisfy yourself and you cannot stop without help. It causes many problems in every aspect of one’s life and needs to be considered. Its causes and treatments need to be laid out for better understanding. (Nordqvist, March) The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that allows human beings to evaluate situations, make rational decisions and control their emotions and desires. This part of the brain is still developing in adolescence and abusing it will have a very dire effect in the future. (Buljan, 2010) An addict is a person who is addicted. This person will have desires and cravings, in which he will urgently want to indulge, and usually symptoms of withdrawal accompany this feeling if he does not get the substance he craves. There are several reasons for this disease. Genetics are suspected, and so is the environment, but the new explanation that has been discovered is that it is a brain disease. (Maureen C Nash, 2011) The roles of the reward mechanisms in the brain are suspected to be involved with this disease. Dopamine systems stimulate the brain when it receives a reward be it food, or any other thing that the person likes. This is the only centre of the brain that stimulates it, and no additional centre has been found to cause addiction. Taking the substance that you are addicted to changes the wiring of your brain and you require special needs to fulfill your cravings. Dopamine is activated with the use of the substance or aspect that you are addicted to. and this is not a natural process, but a highly unnatural one as you make your brain accustomed to the aspects that it is usually not used to, but is in fact actually sensitive to. It not only arouses your brain and rewards it but the arousal it leads to is of abnormal nature, leading to changes in the brain’s motor and cognitive abilities. Other researchers believe that what is involved in addiction includes: the medial prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, amygdala and nucleus accumbens. There are other cortical structures involved in the rewarding centre of the brain apart from dopamine. This was shown by Hans Breiter with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging. In simple terms, drugs such as morphine, or money, or shopping, rewards your brain and satisfies it. But if you don’t acquire them, you will experience withdrawal. This is not just the case with drugs, but also non-drug expectations. A drug will lead to ‘drug rewards’ whereas a non drug will lead to a ‘non-drug reward.’ (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2000) Positron emission tomography studies by Nora Volkrow showed that substance abusers had fewer striatal D2 receptors. There was also lower monoamine oxidase B which is important in the reward circuit of the brain in those who were addicted to smoking. This meant that more dosage was needed every time to stimulate the reward centers because addiction was reducing the enzymes needed to stimulate it. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2000) The brain reward system can be further extended beyond the dopamine system. The stimulation has to do with the synaptic actions when dopamine is stimulated which are affected by addiction. Since the brain is not used to such stimulation, it is required to adapt to it, a

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