Allostasis and Addiction

The term addiction, in medical terminology means a psychiatric disorder manifested by unusual craving and compulsive indulgence of certain activities like drug addiction, alcohol addiction, gambling, video game, crime, money work addiction, overeating, nicotine or pornographic addiction. In fact there is no end of the list but since these substances or activities always brings negative impact on individual and social life; so they are specially earmarked. Addiction can also be described as a compulsive obsession and create excessive psychological dependence in addicts on their individual preference.

However, the term addiction is used commonly to mean psychological dependence and usually attached to drug or substance abuse problems. But it is also used for problems like compulsive overeating or alike; though medical communities do not recognize them as problems of addiction. There are addictions that are not substance related; like gambling and computer addiction. In these sorts of cases addiction means a recurring compulsion felt by individual to engage in some particular activity without considering its harmful consequences.

Different forms of addiction
In United States, the term “addiction” is not used in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Disorders (DSM -IV TR) instead it uses “substance dependence” for physical dependence, abuse of or withdrawal from any substances or drugs. The section Substance dependence states “…. When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. These, along with substance abuse are considered substance use disorders……..” Terminology is divided between psychiatrists and physicians; as former call this problem or disease as psychological dependence or addiction and the later as physical or substance dependence.

Now there is trend to distinguish between physical dependence characterized by withdrawal symptoms and psychological dependence manifested by “compulsive, uncontrolled use” with no harm being suffered by user or any one. Clinically it is termed as “compulsive” but not necessarily addiction.

There is a lesser known factor called pseudo-addiction. This occurs when a patient seeks drugs after being treated with that for longer period. This reflects psychological dependence or addiction but sometime it may happen so that the patient might have been under treated as well. Such cases are numerous when patients are treated with opiates drugs to relieve them from pains. Treating them adequately tends to remove such dependence. More studies are required for the effectiveness or substitutes of addictive drugs like opiates.

Allostasis : What is it?
When a person is inclined to drug or substance addiction, he or she then appears to enter a new state called allostatic state departing from normal levels of change in ordinary condition. Allostasis is a process of maintaining stability while changing behavior and physiological features. Drug addiction causes harm to the addict’s brain and body due to pathological state caused by damage known as allostatic load. The result of allostatic load is a state of constant depression stemming from allostatic changes. This forces the drug abusers to seek drugs before their brain and body returns to normal allostatic levels; thus producing a constant state of stress. It is observed that the presence of circumstantial stressors induce acute drug seeking tendencies.

Allostasis is a new concept proposed by Sterling and Eyer in 1988. This is a process that establishes the stability in an emergency and occurs endogenously in our physiological system to maintain balance. The word allostasis and homeostasis derived from original Greek words; “homeo” means “same” and stasis means “stable”; so homeostasis means “remaining stable by staying the same”. So with the word allostasis; in Greek “allo” means “variable” and statis means “stable”; so allostasis means ” remaining stable by being variable”. Allostasis is a process to achieve stability through physiological or behavioral change and this can be done by altering HPA axis ( hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) hormones, cytokines, autonomic nervous system or many other systems and they are generally short term.

The process of allostasis is fundamental and this helps organisms to adjust or adapt actively to predictable or unpredictable events of life. Allostatic loads refer to the cumulative cost; the allostasis body pays to regain stability. Allostatic overload may result in serious pathophysiology. There are two types of allostatic overloads proposed which result in response of followings:

Type – I: This is when allostatic overload is caused due to increased demand of energy exceeds the supply and that result in emergency life history stage. When perturbation passes normalcy restored decreasing allostatic load.

Type – II: Allostatic overloads occur when demand of energy increases with social conflict or any type of social dysfunction. In these cases the normalcy restored by secretion of glucocorticosteroids and activities of other allostasis mediators like CNS neurotransmitters, autonomic nervous system, inflammatory cytokines wax. However if allostatic loads remain chronically high then pathologies develop. It is something like this, if a dehydrated individual continue to be stressed despite being helped then he fails to reinstate the body function. This will result in wearing out of individual’s body. Though human body is adaptable but fails to bear allostatic overload for a very longer period without hazards.

The adaptogens may come in help to curb allostatic load. Adaptogens are herbal or pharmaceutical substance; they are non-toxic in regular doses and produce defensive response of nonspecific nature to stress. They restore normalcy in HPA axis. Adaptogens are new class of metabolic regulators for homeostatic and allostatic changes, toning down the hyperfunctioning systems activity or increasing hypofunctioning systems.

Allostasis and Drug Addictions
Drug addiction or substance dependence is a chronic disorder manifested by a compulsive tendency to take and seek drugs or substances to manage the levels of compulsion and desires brought on by allostatic overload. Continuous increase of intake raises the hedonic level and overtakes the individual by a negative emotional state when without them. Allostatic changes helps to identify the effects and causes of drug addiction in the neurobiological and neuroadaptive systems. The reward system of the brain in the event of drug addiction implicates some key elements of amygdale basal forebrain macrostructure. The change in stress and reward system of the brain appears to maintain stability in allostatic state in contradiction to homeostatic state; so this shows the development of susceptibility and recurrence of addiction. The allostatic state of longer abstinence is the most useful target for treating drug addiction through pharmacological and behavioral therapies. When dealing with recovery from addiction it’s important for the patient to be cognizant of the brain functions occurring and by being fully aware of how the component of allostasis relates to ones addiction.

Top 5 Drug Addiction Causes In Teens – Things You Must Be Aware Of As A Parent

As a parent it is important to stay up to date on topics such as teen drug usage to see what your child may encounter in his/her teenage years.

Much of today’s youth’s drug usage begins with peer pressure and the need to want to fit in and be like everyone else. By the time your child reaches the age of 18 there is about a 70 percent chance that your child has been offered some kind of drug in his/her life time. There is about a 15 percent chance that he/she has actually tried some sort of drug at one point. For the most part, teenagers are curious and rebellious so they tend to experiment. Cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana are the most common and the most accessible.

With this said, it is important that you get to know your child’s group of friends so that you have an idea about what type of people they are associating with. Studies show that we are like the five people we hang out with the most. If you look at the five people closest to you, you will find yourself. It is crucial that you prepare your child for the peer pressure that they are sure to experience. You may want to give them different scenarios and ask them for their response in such a situation.

Another factor that causes drug addiction in teens is a poor family life. People that are unhappy at home are three times as likely to become addicted to drugs or start using them than someone who experiences a healthy living environment. The reason for this is that they start using drugs to escape the emotional pain they are experiencing and drugs work for that. If you feel like the living situation you are in at the moment is affecting your child, make sure that you talk to them about it and do something to help them cope with the situation.

Some teens feel like they can only be confident and happy with the consumption of drugs and alcohol, that is why it is important that you give them proper praise whenever they do something good. Make sure you acknowledge them for achievements, even if they are small. A simple, “good job,” can go a long way to build confidence and self-esteem in your child.

Furthermore, steroids are becoming more and more popular among high schoolers. With all the actors and actresses in perfect shape, we all tend to think that being like that is normal. Teenagers look up to these people more than anyone. This is why a lot of females experience eating disorders and why a lot of males start taking steroids. They want to have the perfect body in the shortest amount of time possible. Unfortunately, a lot of teenagers don’t see steroids as being as detrimental to their health as marijuana or other drugs. A lot of teenagers start taking them with the intention of quitting when they get the body they want. They figure that because it isn’t an addictive drug that they will be able to do so. However, due to the fact that once you quit using them, you lose a lot of muscle mass, a lot of people tend to get back on them when they notice themselves getting smaller. They cycle on and off of them and over time this can cause extreme irreversible health problems.

The last, most common cause of drug addiction among teens and others is that it starts off as medication. The most common type of drug that starts off as medication are pain killers. Pain killers can be extremely addictive and hard to break away from once you are on them. The addiction to these drugs kind of sneak up on you. If you know your child is taking them for some kind of injury they experienced make sure you are monitoring their usage and cutting them off when you feel appropriate. What happens is that people get so used to taking them that they end up needing them just to feel normal. Once the normal dosage stops doing the trick they end up taking more and more.

With all this said, it is important that you talk to your children about drugs and their effects on the body and mind. Make sure you educate them properly. A lot of parents make the mistake of thinking their children are too young to speak with them about drugs but they aren’t. You should talk to them about it as soon as possible and set a good example for them. Show them pictures of what drugs do to people and give them as much information about them as possible.

Addictions, Causes and Control

Addiction or compulsion, both can be a devastating problem, but one is due to substance abuse and the other quite often caused by anxiety related problems.

The unfortunate symptoms of addiction are the fact that whatever the cause is, it completely takes over the sufferers life. When controlled by alcohol or drugs the afflicted person’s whole existence is controlled by that substance.

The most important factor is where the next fix is going to come from and in a lot of cases where is the money going to be found to pay for it. This can mean that belongings have to be sold, bank accounts overdrawn and eventually crime committed. Families are broken up and jobs lost. Self esteem disappears and before long homes are gone.

The person loses all sight of what they once were and were hoping to be. Or maybe that was the problem. A common cause of substance abuse is when an active or competitive life is suddenly curtailed. As in the case of many sportsmen who when retiring from their chosen field suddenly feel lost, the adrenaline rush is gone, there are no more goals to be reached, the training is unnecessary, so what is the point.

Unfortunately, this can be the point of no return and the result can be illness, prison or even death. But for some when everything has been lost and there seems no hope something takes over and they say, ‘no more’. How the road to recovery is taken varies, but sometimes the hard way can be the best.

Cold turkey or complete abstinence can be a dangerous but efficient way to deal with the addiction. It is hard and painful but once completed can give that person a reason to try to rebuild their lives. If they manage to get through that period, there is no reason why they cannot go on to climb out of the mire and lead a better life.

At this point, the person must have a new goal in their life otherwise it is too easy to fall back into the addiction cycle. This is where many people fail, if they are beings that need stimulation to survive, then they must look for a new purpose in life, new goals and achievements.

It is hard but is possible as many successful people have proved. Some true entrepreneurs have such backgrounds and have gone onto great things. If a person has the strength and determination to overcome Addictions and compulsions then surely they have the right attributes to do anything they want.