Though it has not always been the case, these days we know that, scientifically, addiction is an intricate chronic disease and not at all a choice someone makes. In the same way that asthma never really goes away but might go into remission as someone gets older, addiction can also go into remission, but it is always under the surface and with the right circumstances will reappear. Drug or alcohol addiction is just this way. Given this information we must ask, how do people acquire or develop this chronic illness? How do people develop a chemical dependence and psychological addiction? Is it something that comes from a genetic handing down of the disease? Or maybe it is more of an environmental element creating the ailment?
Depression, Anxiety and Stress in North Dakota
It’s common for any addiction to be tied to depression, anxiety, stress and other mental distress. Mental illness remains a highly under supported part of the United States health system. Emotions, family stress, financial pressure, the loss of loved ones, abuse, overwork and so many other parts of modern life contribute to decisions to use substances.
Seemingly harmless anxiety can lead to addiction risks even through very mundane events such as going to a party alone. With social anxieties and over using alcohol to help loosen the grip of that nervousness, a pattern of use can develop into a reliance and later dependence.
Holidays are also highly noteworthy for having higher levels of reported depression statistically. Suicide rates increase along with substance abuse, particularly alcohol. Binge drinking around the holidays can be excused due to gatherings and rare events and thus typically can mask what could be an inability to cope with depression, stress or anxiety.
It’s often a tossup, especially with alcohol, whether the addiction or the depression comes first, but they rarely travel alone. Alcohol is known to increase depression because of how it chemically causes the body to react when drinking. Like all other addictive substance, it causes some dopamine release during the first few drinks. Couple with long term use which can wear down dopamine receptors, addiction induce depression when an addict is not drinking, which can then put extra stress on a person if the holidays are associated with depressing memories and events.
Stress may also come into play with some drugs such as cocaine, where the feeling of control is often reduced when a person is highly stressed. A sizable number of cocaine users reported feeling more invincible and impervious to stress and challenge which becomes an addiction not so much based on not being able to deal with the stress but addicted to the feeling that they can deal with it, which in turn reduces the feeling of stress, whether it’s actually true or not that the stressful situations have any positive change based on the actions of the person on cocaine vs. their actions without it.
Genetic Links to Addiction
As more and more studies continue into the realm of genetic solutions to long time ailments of the human race, some researchers have been looking into how addiction and genetics may be tied together. In 2018, several studies surfaced that are starting to find evidence that addiction does play a role on different addictions in different ways.
For instance, stem cell researchers believe they have discovered a way to block a specific receptor which heightens the pleasure a person gets from cocaine use in order to make it chemically less addictive by using a skin graft with altered DNA. The experiment was performed on lab mice this year, but the researchers are hoping to eventually move toward human research for possible treatment in 5 years, which is a rather short time for such experimental studies.
Other groups have found similar genetic links for alcohol as well. Another study involving mice involved direct manipulation of receptors that are tied to specific genes which trigger pleasurable sensations and are normally released when drinking alcohol. The direct manipulation showed a strong reason to believe that if manipulating the gene resulting in less receptors could lead to lowered addiction risk.
While there’s no absolutely conclusive study that can simply point to some specific gene and slip it on and off like a light switch in order to shut off substance dependencies, it would still likely only be dealing with less than half of the entire problem associated with the addictive behavior. At this stage, it’s already helping doctors identify their patients who may be at higher risk for addiction. As the research uncovers more information to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, it may, indeed, be possible. For now, it’s just a hunch.
Meth Use and Alcohol Use Rising With Women
A recent study into national data on addiction and substance use showed a gender difference in new users. Women new to meth were outpacing new men trying meth nearly 3 to 1. While alcohol was not quite at difference in rate, it was still comparable. Incidents of alcohol related health deaths issues from long term addiction were on the rise for middle aged women at a rate of just under 2 to 1 over men.
The two studies also noted a difference in relationship to the respective drugs as opposed to how men interact with it. The study noting the differences in the effects of alcoholism is that middle aged women are often times not overtly drinking in front of a lot of people or in a public space but instead at home, possibly alone. Given enough time of this kind of secretive drinking, the drink wears down their body in very specific ways associated with alcohol addiction, such as cirrhosis. A ritual of ‘relaxing at the end of the day’ may end abruptly after 15 straight years of drinking a bottle of wine every night before sleeping. The women ending up finding their drug of choice was meth were found to also making that decision much earlier with a higher rate of teen usage overall contributing to the addiction into adulthood.
If you’re in need of addiction rehab in North Dakota, contact us today to find the right substance abuse treatment for you.