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Mood disorders and addiction

Old 05-13-2009, 11:36 PM
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Mood disorders and addiction

I have noticed people reporting mood disturbances in these forums, and there was also some talk about starting a new recovery movement, and some discussion about happiness. I uncovered some information about the science of addiction, mood disorders and brain chemistry, and I thought others might be as surprised by this information as I was.

For years, research studies have linked chronic mood disorders such as anger, anxiety, depression, impulsive behavior , and restlessness, to imbalances in the function of neurotransmitters.

The genetic basis for addictive behavior is also believed to involve neurotransmitters. This is why a person feels “high” sensations of euphoria, confidence and serenity when they drink alcohol, use opiates, meth, cocaine, or even smoke cigarettes.

In the 1980’s, a pharmaceutical company came out with a medication that was supposed to be an experimental drug aimed at treating depression. Many, many of the subjects reported that while they were on this drug, they decided to stop smoking. The drug has since been renamed (Zyban) and is now indicated for nicotine addiction. Zyban releases neurotransmitters.

We really are medicating ourselves when we drink or use. An imbalance in GABA, serotonin, dopamine or norepinephrine causes mood disorders, and when we drink or use, we correct the imbalance.

So when we quit, we possibly leave ourselves vulnerable to severe mood disorders, and psychiatric disorders.

Since drug and alcohol use disrupts the balance of these neurotransmitters, long term use may result in mood disorders or psychiatric illness, even if we did not have a problem before we became addicted.

Believe it or not, psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is believed to be just as effective in treating these imbalances as drugs, when diligently pursued.

Further, researchers point to the benefit of regular aerobic exercise, meditation, yoga and TaiChi for restoring brain chemistry balance.
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Freepath View Post
I have noticed people reporting mood disturbances in these forums, and there was also some talk about starting a new recovery movement, and some discussion about happiness.
As soon as I saw the title on this thread I thought, "Is Freepath talking about me?" LOL I guess in a way, sorta. Right, cue music: *You're so vain you probably think this thread is about you...*

Originally Posted by Freepath View Post
Further, researchers point to the benefit of regular aerobic exercise, meditation, yoga and TaiChi for restoring brain chemistry balance.
I swear by it. I'm to the point where if I don't get my hike in I get really grumpy. Some days I think it's the only thing getting me through. Today I figured I might as well get a little extra out of my hikes so I purchased ankle and wrist weights.

And regular sleep schedules. That would probably help, too.
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:36 AM
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I'm positive the exercise and the sleep that comes with it are whats "right" with me.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:14 PM
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Freepath, you are right on in everything you said in your OP. I am doing CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) in addition to a cocktail of meds. In my case, the mood disorder preceded using substances. They call it dual diagnosis. I am sure you know this

At any rate, very informative. I am loving my new treatment program and it's very valuable. It is too bad there aren't more like this one out there.
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Old 05-15-2009, 12:57 AM
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As soon as I saw the title on this thread I thought, "Is Freepath talking about me?" LOL I guess in a way, sorta. Right, cue music: *You're so vain you probably think this thread is about you...*
Our conversations have definitely made me think. But no, not specifically about you. Look at this entire website. There are referrals to suicide hotlines and forums about mental health issues and nutrition and fitness. All of these things affect neurotransmitter release, reuptake and binding.

One of the perplexing things about these neurotransmitters is that people can be, let’s say, depressed because there is not enough dopamine being released in the synapse, or depression can be caused because there is too much dopamine in the synapse. Hence the word “balance” and not deficiency or elevation.

Chemical synapse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Other confounding information includes the action of peptides, which may work in conjunction with neurotransmitters, or alone at the synapse. We know that the most prevalent neurotransmitters are not necessarily the ones that cause the most pronounced effect in our mood and behavior. So, do peptides play a role in mood and addiction? Further, new peptides are being discovered routinely, and we do not even completely understand the role of neurotransmitters that we have known about for a long time. So it’s spongy science.

If a new recovery or treatment program were conceived, it seems rational that understanding brain chemistry would help contribute to it’s success a lot.

People come to these forums and recovery groups with problems, [otherwise why give up the addiction?] and it seems that realizing the source of these problems would go a long way toward offering solutions. It seems to me that there are tangible problems and problems with an origin of brain chemistry.

For example, if I am depressed because I lost my job and I am broke, then the solution is simple. Find a source of income. This is an example of a real problem which requires a real solution. Perhaps the solution is to explore personal skills, interests and the market demands for them.

If I am depressed because I think that everybody hates me, even though evidence does not bear this perception out, then I may have a problem which is more cognitive and possibly chemical in origin. Perhaps meditation, group or individual therapy, exercise and a period of medication use will be helpful in addressing this problem.

I think a lot of recovery has to do with the ultimate goal of finding peace with oneself, and that journey is filled with both kinds of problems, and blends of problems in between.
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Old 05-15-2009, 06:53 AM
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Wow, Freepath. Excellent thread.
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Freepath View Post
Our conversations have definitely made me think. But no, not specifically about you. Look at this entire website. There are referrals to suicide hotlines and forums about mental health issues and nutrition and fitness. All of these things affect neurotransmitter release, reuptake and binding.

One of the perplexing things about these neurotransmitters is that people can be, let’s say, depressed because there is not enough dopamine being released in the synapse, or depression can be caused because there is too much dopamine in the synapse. Hence the word “balance” and not deficiency or elevation.

Chemical synapse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Other confounding information includes the action of peptides, which may work in conjunction with neurotransmitters, or alone at the synapse. We know that the most prevalent neurotransmitters are not necessarily the ones that cause the most pronounced effect in our mood and behavior. So, do peptides play a role in mood and addiction? Further, new peptides are being discovered routinely, and we do not even completely understand the role of neurotransmitters that we have known about for a long time. So it’s spongy science.

If a new recovery or treatment program were conceived, it seems rational that understanding brain chemistry would help contribute to it’s success a lot.

People come to these forums and recovery groups with problems, [otherwise why give up the addiction?] and it seems that realizing the source of these problems would go a long way toward offering solutions. It seems to me that there are tangible problems and problems with an origin of brain chemistry.

For example, if I am depressed because I lost my job and I am broke, then the solution is simple. Find a source of income. This is an example of a real problem which requires a real solution. Perhaps the solution is to explore personal skills, interests and the market demands for them.

If I am depressed because I think that everybody hates me, even though evidence does not bear this perception out, then I may have a problem which is more cognitive and possibly chemical in origin. Perhaps meditation, group or individual therapy, exercise and a period of medication use will be helpful in addressing this problem.

I think a lot of recovery has to do with the ultimate goal of finding peace with oneself, and that journey is filled with both kinds of problems, and blends of problems in between.
Gosh, Freepath, I know a lot about neurotransmitters but nothing about peptides. I'd be interested in learning more about this.

I saw a special on addiction on CNN. At this point in the whole recovery movement it seems to me there are two camps, for the most part, least in my experience and I am referring to the CNN special. In it, there were several treatment centers based on traditional concepts. However, there was also a guy on Naltrexone who had not picked up a drink for eight years and had nothing to do with traditional concepts. I think the ideal solution is to combine all methods and give people information so they can make an informed choice, which doesn't happen that often in most of today's rehabs. The science is left out far too often.
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