More on the “myth of the addict gene”

A reader comments on my last post:

The anti-disease concept crusaders seem to ignore that environmental/psycho-social influences are proven to change the biochemistry of the brain. E.g. PTSD and sexual abuse have been shown to produce some of the same biochemical markers in the brain nake-up and chemistry that are present in addiction so small wonder there’s a correlation.

A lecturer I heard at a neonatal/pediatric pain management conference I attended a few years is a pioneer in neonatal pain research (Dr. Anand.) In one of his rat studies he demonstrated that rat pups exposed to minor but repetitive pain stimuli (i.e. neonatal stress) had many brain changes and associated behaviors as adult rats. One of the brain changes was a marked increase in the NMDA receptors (know to be associated with addiction as well as ADHD) and one of the behavior changes was a MARKED increase in alcohol preference – from 10% in the control to 90% (or as he put it in his melifluously accented voice, “The rats were really hitting the bottle.”) Sure sounds like a brain phenomena to me, whether it’s environmentally and/or genetically and/or otherwise induced.

There clearly is concensus building about the brain being central to addiction. However, the question that I rarely see address is this–assuming that addiction is a brain problem, are addicts born with a different brain, or is it created by drug use, life experience, etc?

My biggest problem with the trend I addressed in the previous post is the motives of the critics. If you’re offended by the war on drugs, attack that. If you want social mores and policy to create space for social drug use, make that case. It’s not neccesary to attack the disease model to make their case. (I’ve got the same problem with people who characterize all excessive drug or alcohol use as a disease.) If they really question the disease model on scientific evidence, by all means, speak up. However, I suspect that too often there are other motives.

One thought on “More on the “myth of the addict gene”

  1. In order to help us to dispose of anxiety and panic attacks, we have two responses to understand. The response is flight or fight. Threats are the fundamental source that causes stress to either decrease or increase depending on how you react. By means of biochemical change, most reactions come from. The changes can prepare us to handle the threats that make us to react.The fact is if you react negative to triggers of the emotion, which causes stress it can cause huge harm to your emotions and physical wellness. The brain sends alarm warnings from the cerebral cortex, which means it starts to decide whether the danger is real or imagined and then sends it to the main switch known as hypothalamus, which is the stress responder button in the brain. Once the trigger is, hit, the nervous SNS system goes through changes that target the body. You will notice your heart beating faster, or your blood pressure rising if the stress level is lofty. If you can call back your history, you may remember a time when your hands were cold, particularly at what time you felt stressed. The reason is the blood redirected to the large muscles bypassing the digestive system and areas of the body that helps you to function properly.

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