Sunday, June 22, 2008

Addiction: A Faulty Switch in the Brain

HBO.com has an interesting site dealing with addiction. An article I found to be quite interesting called Stop! Go! A Rogue System in the Brain gave me a better understanding of actually what addiction is and why it happens.

To summarize, healthy people have a Stop! Go! system located in the front part of the brain. When this system is working correctly the Stop! Go! send messages to each other letting us know when to Stop! or Go!... This system considers the risks before taking action, otherwise we would all just step out into traffic without looking.

A leading addiction researcher says that an addicts system operates in the Go mode! The Go! just stops talking to the Stop!...and the Go! runs wild along with the consequences of their actions. That must be why an addict always thinks their okay and why they keep taking the drug even though the drugs are dangerous-they're in the Go! mode. The front part of the brain in adolescents is still developing connections to the rest of the brain. They too are operating in the Go! mode. That's why some teens take risky actions because their Stop! Go! system is not completely developed.

Even for addicts in recovery, anything that reminds them of where and when they used, a parking lot where they used drugs, a song, a person they use to buy drugs from, even a scent can [trigger] the Go! and the Stop! is disconnected again. A trigger disconnects the system...and the Go! goes wild again.

The seboxone helps with this...because once my daughter had been on seboxone for a couple of months she began to realize the consequences of her actions. But, triggers are still something she struggles with...and I guess this will be something that she will have to learn to deal with by staying away from the triggers...and how do you do that if the brain switches to the Go! mode?

If there was a way to hard-wire the Stop!Go! system in our brains we could solve a very large problem ...addiction.

1 comment:

pat said...

It almost sounds too simple. But, maybe we make things too complicated. What has helped my son was a combination approach. However, he still needed to be ready to change and that "waiting" part was always the most difficult thing for us.