Brain Chemistry May Explain Addiction

Brain Chemistry May Explain Addiction
Posted by FoM on September 10, 1999 at 13:49:26 PT
Fox Health News
Source: Fox News
Differences in brain chemistry may lead to addiction in some people who dabble in illicit drugs, while sparing others, according to a team of researchers.
Commenting on the findings, Dr. Alan L. Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that "understanding these biological issues will help us learn why some people are particularly vulnerable to abusing drugs and provides new potential targets for both prevention and treatment efforts." In the study, Dr. Nora Volkow and colleagues at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., and the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that study subjects who found the effects of a mild stimulant drug to be pleasurable had lower levels of the dopamine D2 receptor in their brains, while those who expressed distaste for the drug's effects had measurably higher levels of the receptor. Receptors are structures that bind specific substances to a cell, either on the cell's surface or in its interior. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the body that participates in the transmission of signals between nerve cells. "This is the first evidence in humans showing an association between D2 receptor levels in (the) brain and the reinforcing responses to (stimulants)," the study authors write in the September issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. In a statement released by Brookhaven National Laboratory, Volkow explained the significance of these findings. "People with fewer dopamine receptors may take drugs to activate ... pleasure circuits (in the brain which) may be one of the factors that predisposes a person to drug abuse." The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET), an advanced imaging technique, to measure dopamine D2 receptor levels in 23 healthy young men who participated in the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the US Department of Energy. Methylphenidate (Ritalin), known for its stimulant properties, was administered intravenously to the men who were then asked to rate how the drug made them feel. About half the participants "described (methylphenidate) as pleasant, nine described it as unpleasant and two as neutral," according to the study results. The researchers note that D2 levels were "significantly lower" in individuals who liked the effects induced by the drug compared with those who found the effect unpleasant. comments newsdigital.com1.06 p.m. ET (1706 GMT) September 9, 1999  Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved 
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Comment #3 posted by observer on September 11, 1999 at 17:26:47 PT
brain chemistry and "illicit" drugs
"Differences in brain chemistry may lead to addiction in some people who dabble in illicit drugs"Fascinating! One wonders how "brain chemistry" is able to ascertain the political/legal status of substances like that? How can it distinguish "illicit" drugs from legal ones? 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on September 10, 1999 at 14:35:57 PT
I Agree
Hi Rainbow,I think it is because science is finally starting to get the message across that drug addicts aren't doing what they do because of criminal behavior but by an overpowering compulsion, for lack of a better expression, which I think is true. I hope we see more and more about it and they don't sweep it under the carpet again.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by rainbow on September 10, 1999 at 14:29:20 PT:
Old data???
I think that I heard this quite a while back (several years). I wonder why it is now in the news again.Rainbow
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