34.6 F
Indianapolis
Friday, January 15, 2021

Addiction a brain disorder, not just bad behavior

More by this author

Police have a legitimacy problem to address first

Lauryn Smith sat on the sidewalk during a sit-in on Indiana Avenue earlier in September and thought about whether it’s actually possible for police...

City leaders, community members disagree on demilitarization

When protesters came face to face with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) officers downtown May 30, the anger and confusion from the crowd was...

IU School of Medicine to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trial

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine will be looking for volunteers to receive a two-round COVID-19 vaccination when the trial resumes in...

Substance use disorder stigma: the ‘scarlet letter’

They say when white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia. The saying usually applies to economic disparities, but what about when white...

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

WASHINGTON (AP) — Addiction isn’t just about willpower. It’s a

chronic brain disease, says a new definition aimed at helping

families and their doctors better understand the challenges of

treating it.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

“Addiction is about a lot more than people behaving badly,” says

Dr. Michael M. Miller of the American Society for Addiction

Medicine.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

That’s true whether it involves drugs and alcohol or gambling and

compulsive eating, the doctors group said Monday. And like other

chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, treating

addiction and preventing relapse is a long-term endeavor, the

specialists concluded.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Addiction generally is described by its behavioral symptoms – the

highs, the cravings, and the things people will do to achieve one

and avoid the other. The new definition doesn’t disagree with the

standard guide for diagnosis based on those symptoms.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

But two decades of neuroscience have uncovered how addiction

hijacks different parts of the brain, to explain what prompts those

behaviors and why they can be so hard to overcome. The society’s

policy statement, published on its website, isn’t a new direction

as much as part of an effort to translate those findings to primary

care doctors and the general public.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

“The behavioral problem is a result of brain dysfunction,” agrees

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug

Abuse.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

She welcomed the statement as a way to help her own agency’s work

to spur more primary care physicians to screen their patients for

signs of addiction. NIDA estimates that 23 million Americans need

treatment for substance abuse but only about 2 million get that

help. Trying to add compassion to the brain findings, NIDA even has

made readings from Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night”

a part of meetings where primary care doctors learn about

addiction.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Then there’s the frustration of relapses, which doctors and

families alike need to know are common for a chronic disease,

Volkow says.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

“You have family members that say, `OK, you’ve been to a detox

program, how come you’re taking drugs?'” she says. “The pathology

in the brain persists for years after you’ve stopped taking the

drug.”

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Just what does happen in the brain? It’s a complex interplay of

emotional, cognitive and behavioral networks.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Genetics plays a role, meaning some people are more vulnerable to

an addiction if they, say, experiment with drugs as a teenager or

wind up on potent prescription painkillers after an

injury.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Age does, too. The frontal cortex helps put the brakes on unhealthy

behaviors, Volkow explains. It’s where the brain’s reasoning side

connects to emotion-related areas. It’s among the last neural

regions to mature, one reason that it’s harder for a teenager to

withstand peer pressure to experiment with drugs.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Even if you’re not biologically vulnerable to begin with, perhaps

you try alcohol or drugs to cope with a stressful or painful

environment, Volkow says. Whatever the reason, the brain’s reward

system can change as a chemical named dopamine conditions it to

rituals and routines that are linked to getting something you’ve

found pleasurable, whether it’s a pack of cigarettes or a few

drinks or even overeating. When someone’s truly addicted, that

warped system keeps them going back even after the brain gets so

used to the high that it’s no longer pleasurable.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Make no mistake: Patients still must choose to fight back and treat

an addiction, stresses Miller, medical director of the Herrington

Recovery Center at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc,

Wis.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

But understanding some of the brain reactions at the root of the

problem will “hopefully reduce some of the shame about some of

these issues, hopefully reduce stigma,” he says.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

And while most of the neuroscience centers on drug and alcohol

addiction, the society notes that it’s possible to become addicted

to gambling, sex or food although there’s no good data on how often

that happens. It’s time for better study to find out, Miller

says.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Meanwhile, Volkow says intriguing research is under way to use

those brain findings to develop better treatments – not just to

temporarily block an addict’s high but to strengthen the underlying

brain circuitry to fend off relapse.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

Topping Miller’s wish list: Learning why some people find recovery

easier and faster than others, and “what does brain healing look

like.”

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; -webkit-border-horizontal-spacing: 2px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 2px;”>

EDITOR’S NOTE – Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues

for The Associated Press.

“font-family: Verdana, Times, serif; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: none; line-height: 13px; color: #000000; font: normal normal normal 12px/normal verdana, helvetica, arial;”>

“text-decoration: none; color: #000066;” rel=”item-license” href=

“http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MED_HEALTHBEAT_ADDICTION?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-08-16-03-04-42#c8fdb7b8-50b6-4a66-aa52-c66ce6f48add”

name=”c8fdb7b8-50b6-4a66-aa52-c66ce6f48add”>© 2011 

“source-org vcard”>The Associated

Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be

published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more

about our

“http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/privacy”>Privacy

Policy and 

href=”http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/terms”>Terms of Use.

- Advertisement -

Upcoming Online Townhalls

- Advertisement -

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest local news.

Stay connected

16,331FansLike
3,142FollowersFollow
5,989FollowersFollow
14SubscribersSubscribe

Related articles

Popular articles

Art & Soul Fest goes virtual

The Art & Soul Festival, hosted by the Arts Council of Indianapolis, is usually a chance for artists and Indianapolis residents to...

Our Future is Powerful Voices

This program is closing the opportunity gap for black and brown students. Find out how you can participate.

Too many are dying

Black Indianapolis has to rediscover a culture of life. Last year we lost 158 Black people to criminal homicides...

Standing on the promises of God

“When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I...

A republic — if you can keep it

Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters attempted a coup d’etat last week. Their actions led to the deaths of at least six...
Español + Translate »
Skip to content