Roughly one month ago, I wrote a series of articles on the history of addiction disease treatment. In those articles, we went over some wacky early theories about the biological causes of addiction, but eventually, some smart scientists theorized that addiction was a metabolic disease like many others, and addiction moved into its current categorization as a physical disease with both physical and mental comorbidities. Comorbidities are other illnesses and problems caused by an overarching issue, and addiction can cause many problems, including depression, anxiety, liver failure, heart attack, and countless others. Many people who suffer from substance use disorder themselves or have a loved one who suffers from substance use disorder would like to know more about the disease. In this article, I will use the latest research to explain to people the causes of addiction and some ways to get help. People close to Panama City, Florida, or people in the Panama City addiction and recovery community may be familiar with Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery, and that is one great place to receive help and treatment for substance use disorder, including alcoholism and dependence on other drugs.
Substance use disorder is classified as a chronic disease. This was understood to be the case even before the biology of addiction was more fully understood. In the original version of “Alcoholics Anonymous” by Dr. Bill W., Bill refers to alcoholism as a chronic disease. This was more easily understood by him as he suffered from addiction himself and had been close to death multiple times before founding Alcoholics Anonymous. Addiction, or substance use disorder, is a chronic disease of the central nervous system, which includes the brain. I recently spoke on this blog of the role the MU-opioid receptor plays in all substance use disorders, not just opioid use disorder. That is because substance use disorder is a problem with the bodies’ reward system. In both human and animal studies, scientists are able to watch the reward system in the brain become disrupted by regular drug and alcohol use. In humans, we know of another set of criteria that are closely tied to the disease of addiction.
Science contends that all people are susceptible to substance use disorders, but not equally so. People with a genetic predisposition for substance abuse are often much more likely to struggle with substance use disorder. This includes people with a single alcoholic grandparent, as well as people who have a parent with a drug-addicted parent. Genetic predispositions for substance use disorder can also exist in people who do not have a family history of substance use disorder that they are aware of. Next, I will talk about the pharmacological basis for addiction disease, which is well understood by scientists who study the phenomena.
According to a study from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, “Generally, the rewarding effect of various addictive substances, including opioids, is associated with stimulation of structures within the mesolimbic system, such as the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens.” This is partly what I spoke about last week. The use of opioids such as oxycontin and heroin directly activate the brain’s reward system, but all other drugs of abuse indirectly cause the same problem. Which is one reason that different addiction is treated in a similar manner by medical professionals, even if some of the specific medications and concerns will be different. In alcohol and benzodiazepine addiction, seizures and death can happen if a person stops using the drugs without medical supervision. This is not true with opiate addiction, however, opiate addiction is often the most uncomfortable withdrawal syndrome. In all cases, the reward system and normal chemical balance of the brain take time to heal, even after the use of the drug of choice has stopped. At Florida Springs in Panama City, addiction is treated as a disease. Having substance use disorder is not a conscious choice that anybody makes, and addiction is not a moral issue. It is a disease state, with medical treatments that are readily available. Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery has counselors that can talk to you today about getting help with your addiction disease in Panama City, Florida.
by T.A. Cannon (Contact me at TACannonWriting@gmail.com)
LISTOS, J. et al. The Mechanisms Involved in Morphine Addiction: An Overview. International journal of molecular sciences, [s. l.], v. 20, n. 17, 2019. DOI 10.3390/ijms20174302. Disponível em: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mnh&AN=31484312&authtype=geo&geocustid=s8475741&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Acesso em: 17 nov. 2020.