View Full Version : "Trauma, Stress and the Biology of Addiction"


mildadhd
08-01-14, 01:40 AM
CHAPTER 18

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Trauma, Stress and the Biology of Addiction


The idea that the environment shapes brain development is a very straightforward one, even if the details are immeasureably complex.

Think of a kernel of wheat.

No matter how genetically sound a seed may be, factors such as sunlight, soil quality and irrigation must act on it properly if it is to germinate and grow into a healthy adult plant.

Two identical seeds, cultivated under opposing conditions, would yield two different plants: one tall, robust and fertile; the other stunted, wilted and unproductive.

The second plant is not diseased: it only lacked the conditions required to reach its full potential.

Moreover, it it does develop some sort of plant ailment in the course of its life, it would be easy to see how a deprived environment contributed to its weakness and susceptibility.

The same principle apply to the human brain.

The three dominant brain systems in addiction--the opioid attachment-reward system, the dopamine-based incentive-motivation apparatus and the self-regulation areas of the prefrontal cortex--are all exquisitely fine-tuned by the environment.

To various degrees, in all addicted persons these systems are out of kilter.

The same is true, we will see, of the fourth brain-body system implicated in addiction: the stress-response mechanism.

Happy attuned emotional interactions with parents stimulate a release of natural opioids in an infant's brain.

This endorphin surge promotes the attachment relationship and the further development of the child's opioid and dopamine circuitry (*1)

On the other hand stress reduces the numbers of both opiate and dopamine receptors.

Healthy growth of these crucial systems--responsible for such essential drives as love, connection, pain relief, pleasure, incentive and motivation--depends, therefore, on the quality of the attachment relationship.

When circumstances do not allow the infant and young child to experience consistently secure interactions or, worse, expose him to many painfully stressing ones, maldevelopment often results.


Gabor Mate M.D, "In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts", P 189.


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sarahsweets
08-01-14, 04:33 AM
Peripheral Im just wondering how this would apply to the addicts who have a loving happy home life and environment but still turn to drugs and alcohol. Would there be a genetic link in that case?

mildadhd
08-01-14, 11:34 AM
Peripheral Im just wondering how this would apply to the addicts who have a loving happy home life and environment but still turn to drugs and alcohol. Would there be a genetic link in that case?


Great question Sarah,

Yes, I think there is always an epigenetic(environment/genetic) link to some degree.

Epigenetic makers can be passed from grand-parents to grandchildren. (or even great-great grand parents to grandchildren)

As a result some people may be likely to born with a more emotionally sensitive temperament.

Distress makes some expressions even more likely.

Infants born with more emotionally hypersensitive temperament, could benefit epigenetically, from a strong understanding of the attunement relationship/process.

Great question.

I would like to consider your question more, and reply more later.

(Side Note: I think considering these topics ,will help humans evolve a higher level of human self control)

(note where the orbito frontal cortex is located in comparison to the brain stem/midbrain area)

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSYU7OdGVrRS-nUpuBHJRSrqTXGXbD5_kp8RNo4Hlk88xixGeNygA

Thanks


P

thewoofhound
08-04-14, 09:13 PM
Peripheral Im just wondering how this would apply to the addicts who have a loving happy home life and environment but still turn to drugs and alcohol. Would there be a genetic link in that case?

Sarah,
We cannot limit ourselves to our home life. I know a girl who was one of the most popular and beautiful girls in high school, had a very affluent family, supportive parents, etc. Just after high school she got pregnant, and, only shortly after that, the guy who got her pregnant killed himself....
I hadn't seen her in years. Recently she messaged me on Facebook asking if we could get a beer. I was happy to oblige. She had track marks all the way up and down her legs. She spent the night talking about how much she loved heroine, meth and crack.

Unfortunately, the experiences in our life, in my opinion, play equally as large a role in who we are as our genetics. When I studied philosophy at University the Nature/Nurture debate was discussed at length. It became apparent to me that, while they are not one in the same, the two cannot be separated. They are so densely entangled in one another that distinguishing one's end and another's beginning is impossible. The mind (or brain) is an organism that never quits learning.