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Author Topic: What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?  (Read 5064 times)

paul.fr

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How do drugs make us addicted? Are plant based or chemical drugs more harmful?
« Last Edit: 07/05/2007 12:48:09 by chris »


 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #1 on: 07/05/2007 05:52:40 »
Some drugs Like Nasal sprays have a rebound effect.. you use it more then the three days stated and your nasel passages start to rely on it instead of their own ability to shrink. requiring you to use more and more.. I was stuck on it for several years it was miserable!
 

another_someone

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Re: What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #2 on: 07/05/2007 08:23:53 »
How do drugs make us addicted? Are plant based or chemical drugs more harmful?

Not sure how one distinguishes plant based or chemical drugs - all are chemical, whether produced by plants or otherwise.  The underlying question can only really be whether humans have become clever enough to create something more potent than plants are already creating.  Again, it is difficult to know exactly what you mean there, because almost all drugs, even those that originate as a plant based substance, will go through some processing (even if it is simply purification) before being used by humans.

As to what addiction is - it is simply the body getting used to something.

At a physical level, if someone who is unused to exercise, goes for a 3 mile run, the effect on his body would be very noticeable.  If that person then regularly goes out for a run, then as he becomes used to running, he will have to keep running further and further in order to develop the same impact upon his body that he had the first time he went out for a 3 mile run.

This, of itself, is merely developing a tolerance, and is not full blown addiction as such; but what you will find is that if you become used to running 10 miles each day, many people do actually become addicted to running, and become depressed if they then are unable to exercise at that intensity.  This may not be as intense an addiction as heroin addiction, but it is addiction.

The problem with drugs such as heroin is that they perform functions within the brain that are naturally performed by the normal chemistry of the brain; but they do so far more powerfully, so the brain then switches off its own chemicals because it is overloaded with this external source of chemicals.  The problem then happens is if this external source of chemicals then stops, then the brains own chemistry has still been switched off, so one has the effect of not having these necessary chemicals within the brain at all.

I suppose what the above does not really answer is why some people are more prone to addiction than others.  I would guess that it might be that for some people the brain is quicker at learning and permanently adapting to a new situation, whereas for other people, when a stimulus is removed, the brain more quickly reverts to its previous state, and so forgets the adaptation it made (after all, addiction is in a way, at a cellular level, a form of learn behaviour).
 

Offline JimBob

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What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #3 on: 08/05/2007 02:30:01 »
The following is based on my relationship with a formerly addicted person from whom I have learned a lot - about life, not just addiction. IT IS NOT BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL SO PLEASE CHECK ALL PHARMOCOLOGICAL INFORMATION !

Most specialists agree that addiction is quite often a genetic personality tendency. But genetics can account for less than half of the addictive persons. Addiction is triggered by the use of a chemical that replaces a chemical involved in brain activity, populates receptor sites (benzodiazaoines, opiates) or allows for increased retention of native chemicals such as serotonin, endorphin, etc. Addiction can also be psychological but the addictions that are chemical are much harder to treat. In fact there is no effective treatment yet. The only solution for "hard cases" is UP TO about a 25% chance of life long recovery in a peer support group. The most effective group is Alcoholics Anonymous. It can benefit any addictive problem.

Both synthetic and plant-based drugs can and will kill the addicted person. "Meth" is the most addictive and destructive of the "recreational" drugs to my knowledge. I do not know it mechanism of action. Other drugs, such as cortisone, can cause the bodies own chemical producing system to shut down. In the case of long term cortiso-steroid use, the adrenal glands permanently atrophy.

Alcohol replaces calcium and other ions on the nerve sheath as well as attaching to several chemical receptor sites, especially GABA sites*; calcium that allows for normal electrical activity to be transmitted by the nerve. In this case, GABAA receptors as well as Ca+, which  is a neurotransmitter. When alcohol is taken away natural GABAA production cannot begin to replace the body's need and it causes poor transmission of the electrical signals along any given nerve and the brain notes the lack of transmission, sending out a flood of instructions, that in sever cases causes convulsions - delirium tremens or DT's. Mild cases are called "the shakes."

Opiates on the other hand, replace natural chemicals in the brain with a flood of chemical substitutes. This causes a desensitization to the drug, requiring more and more to maintain a given level of sedation. When taken away, the addict experiences all types of pain resulting in an intense craving for the drug as the bodies natural opioids are incapable of replacing the amount of mis-used drug ingested.

I had to look up nicotine - don't know what it does off the top of my head.

From Wikipedia - "Nicotine acts on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. In small concentrations it increases the activity of these receptors, among other things leading to an increased flow of adrenaline (epinephrine), a stimulating hormone. The release of adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, as well as higher glucose levels in the blood.

The sympathetic nervous system, acting via splanchnic nerves to the adrenal medulla, stimulates the release of epinephrine. Acetylcholine released by preganglionic sympathetic fibers of these nerves acts on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, causing cell depolarization and an influx of calcium through voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium triggers the exocytosis of chromaffin granules and thus the release of epinephrine (and norepinephrine) into the bloodstream[citation needed].

Cotinine is a byproduct of the metabolism of nicotine which remains in the blood for up to 48 hours and can be used as an indicator of a person's exposure to smoke. In high doses, nicotine will cause a blocking of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, which is the reason for its toxicity and its effectiveness as an insecticide.[citation needed]

In addition, nicotine increases dopamine levels in the reward circuits of the brain. Studies have shown that smoking tobacco inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme responsible for breaking down monoaminergic neurotransmitters such as dopamine, in the brain. It is currently believed that nicotine by itself does not inhibit the production of monoamine oxidase (MAO), but that other ingredients in inhaled tobacco smoke are believed to be responsible for this activity. In this way, it generates feelings of pleasure, similar to that caused by cocaine and heroin, thus causing the addiction associated with the need to sustain high dopamine levels."

_____________________________

* GABA - Gamma-aminobutyric acid. A inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA regulates overactivity in the brain of mammals and other animals. A natural lack of this chemical causes epilepsy, among other things.

« Last Edit: 08/05/2007 02:32:48 by JimBob »
 

Offline kdlynn

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What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #4 on: 08/05/2007 04:50:11 »
what about caffeine? how does that work? and why does it cause such horrible headaches if you don't have it?
 

Offline JimBob

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What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #5 on: 08/05/2007 19:41:02 »
I, too am addicted to caffeine so I looked up caffeine on Google as I don't know much about it. It seems to effect people differently. So the answer is different for different people. I suggest that you Google it and see what fits for you.
 

Offline stana

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What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #6 on: 24/12/2007 21:42:27 »
From my reccolection and reading of addiction i think i can help

When you take something, anything, It can be EMOTIONALLY or PHYSICALLY addictive. Some substances i have taken are not physicall addictive, but because when i have taken them, i have believed i can do better things whilst under the infulence of them. Hence my body thinks i need more, to do that 'better stuff' again. Sugar isnt thought to be addicting, but it is, Same with alcohol. Alcohol (to some people) is seen as an escap from reality, and that they can only get to this place, by drinking excessivley. Caffine (I assume) Is addictive because it keeps you awake and alert, and when you feel tired, you will drink more, and your body needs to rest, but your brain tells you to keep drinking more to stay awake!

Correct me if i am wrong, yet i am pretttty sure im right  :P

Hope i helped

 

The Naked Scientists Forum

What is Addiction. Why are Some Substances Addictive?
« Reply #6 on: 24/12/2007 21:42:27 »

 

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