Addiction What is it?
Is it Chemical Imbalance of the brain? Is it an Obsession of the Mind? Is it an Addiction of the Body? Is it a Break in the Spirit?
Is it a disease caused by chemical dependancies? Is it a Moral Defect of Character? Is it a lack of self control due to outside influences? Is it a lack of Nutrition to the body?
Simply Put, Is it everyone else’s fault?
Is it pressures of society and peoples expectaions of me leading me to do the things I do.
Yes it is this and no it is not. Actually it is no one thing it is a combination of things just like we are complex beings who all want simple answers to all our questions in life. It has to do with chemicals, receptors, neurotranmitters, the body, the mind, the spirit, the way we were brought up, our environment and outside influences, our parents state of well being while we were in the womb and so on and so on and so forth. Just as vegetation needs the proper amount of sunlight, the proper amount of water, the right soil conditions, so we need certain things in our life for our brains to function at even a half normal level. The proper nurturing growing up, the right influences in our life, the right amount of love to give us a sense of security, as well as a security of our well being by our lives not being threatened in any way and so on.
I am going to take you on a journey and ask that you stay with me on this one since this is the number 3 killer in the world Addiction, so I must humbly attempt to fill you in on this very important topic as I have read extensively on this topic as I am an Addict myself.
Some people believe that they are born with addictive tendancies and addiction and others believe that you eventually cross that invisible line. Well I believe that it is both as well as a host of other outside infuences and factors that have contributed to our demise.
To embark on this journey lets start with a chemical of the brain called Dopemine. It has to do with the feel good section of the brain and the more we take outside chemicals like drugs or alcohol or even habits like gambling or sexual promiscuity the less our bodies create this substance hence the need to take a chemical or do a deed to artificially inject our bodies with this substance. Our bodies stop creating it on it’s own once we’ve succumbed to these outside influences.
Well since we touched base on this chemical called Dopemine let’s talk about the opioid circuitory of reward and attachment dopemine works in conjunction with through the prefontal cortex of the brain and the orbitofrontal cortex where most of our emotions and decisions are derived from. Social and emotional stimulation is necessary for the growth of nerve endings that release dopemine and for the growth of receptors to which dopemine needs to bind and function properly. Failure of proper social attachments impairs the proper production of dopemine and nerve endings and the production of receptors.
An imbalance of dopemine as well as other chemicals leads to improper brain function. Parental and emotional nurturing determines the levels of brain chemicals such as seratonin, and norepinephrine which help regulate mood and behaviour not to mention oxytocin which is one of our love chemicals that allows us to have balanced relationships with individuals in our midst. Not enough oxytocin and we tend to regress into our own world and pull away from society with the feeling that we don’t need anyone and we can handle it on our own with no help from others. Now we have an imbalance in our relating to others all because of too little or too much of certain chemicals as mentioned above.
Furthermore maternal deprivation and bad experiences in life can lead to high levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. This chemical is also a key component of our decision making and moods as well. Too much Cortisol can damage the dopemine system and shrink brain centres such as the hippocampus which is important for memory and the processing of emotions therefore creating the need to artificially produce our own dopemine by injesting certain things into our bodies or doing certain actions.
I strongly suggest an excellent book called ” In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts ” by Gabor Mate who does an excellent job delving into the circuitory of the brain and how it works, though I don’t agree with all his theories he still does an excellent job filling you in on this very important subject ” Addiction “.