The Roots Of Behavioral And Chemical Addictions Are Very Similar
> 8/28/2006 2:45:07 PM

Researchers on the topic of addiction now believe that behavioral addictions are more closely related to chemical addictions than previously recorded. In an article in this month's New Scientist, various specialists discuss current research trends linking pathological dependence on food, sex, gambling, and other habits to the same neurological processes that drive drug addiction. German clinician and researcher Sabine Grusser-Sinopoli goes so far as to say that addiction is, in fact, all the same. While the public opines that obsessive attachment to certain behaviors is a matter of personal choice, those who cannot stop exercising, playing video games, or surfing the web often find it increasingly difficult to control their actions, suffering from symptoms very similar to chemical withdrawal during periods of seperation.

Perhaps the most damaging of the emerging addictions is gambling. Australia's government loosened regulations on the practice over the last twenty years, and the country now reports that 80 percent of their adult population gambles regularly and two to three percent have serious gambling problems. Internet gambling in particular is one of the world's fastest growing industries, and because of this expansion some estimate that as much as ten percent of the US population will soon suffer from the same problems. Researchers note that regular gamblers experience a rush very similar to that experienced by drug addicts when supplied with their substance of choice. Studies also show that sugary foods and caffeine release dopamine in much the same way as drugs like cocaine and alcohol. The dopamine released by the brain during exposure to desirable experiences occurs, in varying degrees, as a part of all addictions as well as healthy, enjoyable habits.

The topic of tolerance also applies to certain behaviors just as it does to drugs- the longer one participates in these activities, the greater the quantity required to achieve the same result. Those addicted to exercise, for example, must work out for progressively longer periods in order to feel the same level of recurring stimulation. Specialists recently discovered another neurological element crucial in developing addiction: a gene regulator called delta Fos B which is increasingly present in lab animals allowed to consume more alcohol or indulge in more sexual behaviors than members of the control group. It is one of many chemicals triggered in the nucleus accumbens, or reward circuit, of the brain.

Some use terms like workaholic and chocaholic very lightly, but reliance on such stimuli increasingly falls into the same category as chemical dependence. The definition of addiction is slowly changing from that of a fringe "disease" or "character flaw" frowned upon by many into a far too common phenomenon that can apply to unsuspecting citizens in the same way as more traditional addicts. Public perception plays a large role in dictating the prevalence of such behaviors and the likelihood that those suffering from addiction will take appropriate preventative steps. Wider classifications for dependence reflect growing knowledge of influences and similarities which are simply too great to ignore. Addiction is a far-reaching issue that will continue to grow in relevance as we learn more about the internal processes and predilictions that drive it - and how to treat them more effectively.


Can you please tell me if drug addiction and bipolar disorders have anything in common
Posted by: melva 6/18/2007 2:44:46 AM

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