Addiction and the Pleasure Principle

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Advanced Spine & Rehab’s discusses Addiction treatment and recovery through our medical professionals.

Scientific understanding of addiction as changed considerably over the years. While researchers once believed that people who developed addictions where simply lacking willpower or were flawed in some way, the reality is that addiction is a chronic disease that changes both the structure and the function of the brain in the same way that cardiovascular disease damages the heart or diabetes impairs the pancreas. Through this process, the brain goes through a series of changes, the first of which is known as the pleasure principle.

Understanding the Pleasure Principle

When you experience pleasure, the brain registers that pleasure with a distinct signature that results in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. Neuroscientists refer to this region as the brain’s “pleasure center.” Receiving a monetary award, or eating a satisfying meal can result in this dopamine release.

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Similarly, all drugs – from nicotine to heroin – cause a surge of dopamine to the nucleus accumbens. As such, the likelihood that use of the drug will lead to addiction is linked to the speed with which the drug creates the dopamine release, the reliability of the release and the intensity of the release. This is why taking the same drug through a different method can influence the likelihood of addiction.

Combatting addiction requires a treatment program that will address the pleasure principle. Suboxone treatment programs can help many addicts with this aspect of their addiction. Contact Advanced Spine & Rehab to learn more.