A Cure For Addiction?


Straight from the Journal of Neuroscience.

There may be a way to switch off the urge for compulsive drinking, according to a new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute.

“We can completely reverse alcohol dependence by targeting a network of neurons”

Long story short, the National Institutes on Health (NIH) and on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsored these studies and the results tell us a number of things:

1. Yes, addiction is a brain disease
2. There are very specified circuitry of the brain that is responsible for it.

The findings, published in the September 7 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, built on previous studies showing that frequent alcohol use can activate specific groups of neurons. The more a person drinks, the more they reinforce activation in the neuronal “circuit,” which then drives further alcohol use and addiction. It appears that the brain carves a special pathway between alcohol and reward.
I refer to this specified path as “The Beast Brain” – All the pre-cognitive instincts that assure survival (the need to breathe, nourish, shelter, sleep, drink, and ensure the continuation of the species) are part of the Beast brain.

In lay terms, we are our own biochemistry. Certain chemicals in the brain reinforce something we do repeatedly. Addictions are the result of circuitry gone wrong, causing compulsive use (reward) despite negative consequences.

TSRI Research Associate Giordano de Guglielmo, who was the study’s first author, spearheaded the experiment using alcohol-dependent rats. They were able to discover, and then alter, a very specific collection of neurons that were activated by alcohol. The rats gave the researchers a new window into how these circuits form in human brains, where alcohol-linked neurons are harder to identify and then injected them with a compound that could were able to inactivate only alcohol-linked neurons.

RatsnETOH“I was surprised to see these rats completely cease their compulsive alcohol drinking,” a change that lasted for as long as the rats were monitored.

“We’ve never seen an effect this strong that has lasted for several weeks,” said George. “I wasn’t sure if I believed it.”

They also appeared to be protected from the negative physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as shaking.

The new research also shed light on the differences in the brain between more casual binge drinking and addictive consumption. In the rats that were drinkers but NOT addicted, switching off the alcohol-linked neurons had little effect on future drinking. In the non-addicted users, the brain seemed to switch-on a new group of neurons, as if the brain’s path from alcohol to reward was not established.

Edited for readability 

Source: “Recruitment of a Neuronal Ensemble in the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala is Required for Alcohol Dependence.”

Researchers included Elena Crawford, Sarah Kim, Leandro F. Vendruscolo, Molly Brennan and Maury Cole of TSRI; Bruce T. Hope of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); and George F. Koob, currently on leave from TSRI to serve as director of the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).  This study was supported by the NIH (grants AA006420, AA020608 and AA022977), the NIDA Intramural Research Program and the TSRI Pearson Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.  Authors of the new paper include The Scripps Research Institute’s Olivier George (left) and Giordano de Guglielmo.  Title: Recruitment of a Neuronal Ensemble in the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala is Required for Alcohol Dependence, Journal of Neuroscience,  published September 7, 2016

Motivation and Addiction – What goes Wrong?

Why do people with addictions seem to “choose” their substances over you? Or family? Or work?
Once addicted, the brain works differently. Watch this short explanation. It’s worth it!



What is Codependency?

When I heard the term for the first time, I thought it was a good thing – like cooperation, co-ops, and interdependency. But in the field of psychology, it actually refers to a style of living that is not so good. According to Melody Beatty, who wrote “Codependent No More”:

“It’s a condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules which prevent the open expression of feelings as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal problems.”

Codependents’ have low self worth and look for something outside themselves to make them feel “Okay”.  Some try to feel better through alcohol or drugs while others’ may become obsessed with other people’s problems.

Codependency develops at home. It’s a strategy for survival in an environment where someone else’s needs were seen as more important than yours. If a parent was mentally or physically ill, or someone was raging around and threatening your safety, or any other extreme personality, you might have learned  to always be focused on other’s needs, never even knowing your own needs.

I think codependency happens when a person believes their worth is about function and not about existence.

Let me explain.

We learn to care about ourselves and others’ based on two kinds of love, modeled for us through our caretakers. One – usually considered “masculine” – comes about from feedback that we do things well. The other – usually considered “feminine” – is created from knowing we are lovable because we exist.

In dysfunctional homes, our self worth cannot be confirmed.

Members of these families tend to believe the problems around them are their fault, thus becoming obsessed with trying to fix things that are, frankly, beyond their control.

You can also become codependent if your home environment doesn’t nourish your spirit. Parents that fail to compliment you, that are neglectful, or do not provide proper supervision to help you feel safe, can lead a young person to doubt their worth or ability to manage life.

They learn to seek “worthiness” through sources outside themselves.

Like drugs.

Like alcohol.

Like approval.

Like being perfect.

I became codependent with my family. I became codependent with alcohol. I had many traumatic events that you might understand, even forgive. But the bottom line is… I thought “I” wasn’t enough to manage these things. So I drank – a lot. I justified it because I had my “boundaries”: never before 6pm,  when I had my kids (I’d recently divorced), and never when I worked.

But my life, subtly, became controlled by my need for the substance. I’d always know how long I had to wait before I could imbibe; I’d calculate if I had “enough” for … whatever. I became convinced that everything good about me was because of who I became when I drank.

I was so, so, so very wrong.

Find a counselor if you doubt your worth, if you have a history of “bad” relationships, if you can’t sleep well because of worries outside your control.

“You are responsible for helping yourself see the light and for setting yourself straight. If you can’t get peaceful about a decision, let it go. It’s not time to make it yet. Wait until your mind is consistent and your emotions are calm. Slow down. You don’t have to feel so frightened. You don’t have to feel so frantic. Keep things in perspective. Make life easier for you.” ~Melody Beatty


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