drug addiction

Obesity and Drug Addiction: Fewer Dopamine Receptors in Obese Subjects and Addicts

Eating, Pleasure, and a Chemical Called Dopamine

Eating is pleasurable and we connect all the conditions surrounding a meal with that pleasure. So colors and sounds and of course, smells, can make you remember how happy eating made you feel. A TV commercial can suddenly make you think, “Mmmm, burgers….” when you’re not even hungry.

This happiness comes from a surge of dopamine, a brain-signaling chemical associated with feelings of reward and pleasure. Interestingly, obese individuals and drug addicts often have fewer dopamine D2 receptors than most and it’s speculated that this may make both types of individuals engage in compulsive reward-seeking behaviors.

Imaging the Brain for Dopamine Receptors

To investigate neurological symptoms associated with obesity, researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York used an imaging technique (positron emission tomography or “PET”) to look at the brains of obese and non-obese subjects.

The PET scans revealed significantly lower D2 levels in the striatum of the brain in the obese subjects. The levels of D2 receptors correlated with body mass index. The higher a subject’s body mass index, the fewer D2 receptors he or she tended to have. The levels of D2 receptors did not correlate with gender or brain metabolism.

Obesity Treatments Targeting Dopamine

Consistent with this finding, drugs inhibiting dopamine receptors can lead to weight gain while those that increase dopamine concentrations (e.g., Rimonobant) decrease appetite. It’s possible that low D2 receptor levels cause obese individuals to increase their food intake to make up for the lack of stimulation of their reward centers. But it’s an open question whether the low D2 receptor levels are the cause of overeating or a result of addictive behavior. It’s also an open question whether increasing dopamine release can compensate for lower levels of dopamine receptors over the long term.

Because reward circuits are altered in some obese individuals, overeating may become an involuntary act. So there may be an extra hurdle to overcome in dieting. For example, some individuals struggling to control their food intake may also be dealing with symptoms similar to withdrawal. Unlike a drug addict who can survive without drugs, an obese person still needs to eat, so it may be particularly difficult for a “food addict” to modify his or her behavior. Drugs that reduce withdrawal symptoms may be worth studying as an option for people struggling with diets.

crack cocaine

Crack Cocaine’s Effect on the Brain

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant extracted from the leaf of the Erthroxylum coca plant. Crack is a crude form of freebase cocaine and is derived from cocaine powder (hydrochloride salt) through a simple, but dangerous chemical process usually performed in illegal, homemade laboratories.

Crack derives its name from the sound it makes when heated to release mind and mood altering vapors, which are ‘smoked’ by inhaling them through small tubes, bottles, pipes, and other devices. Crack is the fastest acting and most addictive form of cocaine, and since there is no accepted medical use for the drug, manufacturing, marketing, and using are criminal offenses in the United States and many other countries.

How does Crack Cocaine Affect the Body?

Cocaine works on the pleasure centers of the brain, particularly as a reuptake inhibiter of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Several antidepressants are serotonin reuptake inhibiters (Zoloft), and some slow the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine (Effexor, Prestiq). However, cocaine’s effects are much stronger and more pronounced, causing an elevated sense of well-being.

Dopamine is released by the brain in response to pleasurable stimuli. It circulates through the appropriate body systems, then is retrieved by the neuron that released it, ending the pleasure effect. Cocaine interrupts this retrieval process, leaving large quantities of dopamine floating between neurons and sending an overload of mixed emotional and physical signals to the body, creating an overwhelming feeling of euphoria.

What are the Physical Effects of Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine-induced euphoria can last from minutes to a few hours, depending on how fast the drug reaches the bloodstream and the brain. Fast, strong hits are desired; however, the faster the ‘hit’, and the stronger the effects, the shorter the duration of the ‘high.’ To maintain the euphoria, abusers tend to ‘binge,’ that is, they repeatedly take increasingly higher doses of the drug as soon as the high passes its peak. This process is harmful to the body and can lead to a heart attack, overdose, and even death.

The euphoric high of cocaine/crack must eventually be interrupted, as the user must, at least for awhile, stop using the drug in order to eat, drink, physically function, and to allow the body to reset so the chemical can continue stimulating the brain. Stopping or slowing the intake of cocaine/crack initiates distressful withdrawal symptoms.

What does Crack Withdrawal Feel Like?

Crashing causes anxiety, depression, irritability, anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure), and extreme fatigue. Abusers/users often take heroin or other drugs to minimize the extreme distress of crashing, thereby creating a different set of physical, mental, and emotional problems.

drugs in movies

The Symbolism of Drugs in Horror Movies

Drugs began to become a staple of the slasher movie genre of horror movies in the late 1970s. It has been pointed out time and time again that a teenager who does drugs in a horror movie is usually going to be the next one to be killer by the movie’s antagonist. While the original intent of drug use in horror movies was to make the movies more realistic to teenagers, the depiction of drug use has grown into a symbolic statement of the dangers of that kind of action.

Drugs Alter Perception of Reality

In real life, drugs use alters a person’s perception of the events that are going on around him or her. So to are drugs in horror movies. A perfect example would be in the movie, Freddy vs. Jason in which a group of partiers who were drunk, and obviously drugged believed that Jason Voorhees was someone there in costume, even though he was wielding a machete.

Drugs Slow Reaction Time

Hollywood directors realized very quickly that characters in horror movies that take drugs are not able to get away from horror movie killers in a very effective manner. Very few horror movie fans realize that this is a direct statement to drug use. When a person is under the influence of some kind of mind-altering drug, that person is less likely to survive a life-threatening occurrence because of the fact that reaction time is great affected.

Drugs Kill

By taking a tally of character that smoked pot in any of the Friday the 13 movies, a horror fan will soon realize that all of these characters ended up dieing. The argument could be made about how the character of Alice Hardy smoked pot and survived the original Friday the 13th. It needs to be remembered, though, that she was the first character to die in Friday the 13th: Part 2.

The statement that, “Drugs kill,” is the deepest part of the symbolism of drugs in horror movies. By doing drugs, the characters in horror movies open themselves up to grave disasters at the hands of the slasher movie antagonist. Death becomes inevitable for these characters in the short-run, instead of in the long-run that drugs usually take to reek havoc on a person’s insides.

Drugs in horror movies will most likely continue to be a staple of the genre for many years to come as the action not only can be used as a great sub-plot tool, but as it also hold symbolic value towards the younger generations. It will never be known, though, if the message about drugs makes it past the screen, and into the minds of newer generations.

Drug Addiction And The family Effects

Facing Drug Addiction: The Power of Truth in The Recovering Family

A family discovers the power of honesty and openness as a tool to battle the shroud of secrecy surrounding alcoholism and addiction.

My husband and I were staying at a lovely B&B; in Maine, lingering over a bountiful breakfast and talking with our hosts, as we enjoy doing at B&Bs.;

Where Will The Conversation Lead

One never knows where the conversation will lead, and to our surprise that winter morning, it led to our hosts telling us about their daughter, and their anguish over her drug addiction. They told of repeated attempts at rehab, the failures of either the program or of their daughter to engage and stay with it.

They described heartbreaking setbacks, and their efforts to find new answers and help her try again. Surprise is perhaps too mild a term. We were shocked that total strangers would empty the skeletons out of their family closet. We’re New Englanders, and firm believers in the maxim that what happens at home stays at home. That was before we faced the same crisis ourselves. During the first heart-wrenching weeks and the long months of keeping our fingers crossed that followed, I thought many times of that snowy morning’s breakfast conversation. And each time, I silently thanked those innkeepers.

I called to tell them so, and to tell them how my husband and I intended to continue thanking them. We determined to be as open as they were. We said thank you by “passing it along” to others. We did not hide our daughter’s addiction or her progress in rehab. Whenever the subject of drugs came up, we mentioned our own and our daughter’s experiences. In short, we discussed addiction as we would have discussed any other illness that a family member would be treated for. And do you know what the unexpected result of the innkeepers’ good example was?

We Are Not Alone


We learned that we were not alone. Once we were open, so were others, and we discovered that most of our friends and associates had experienced drug or alcohol addiction in their own families, but had never mentioned it. They had feared being shunned or considered failures as parents. They were ashamed and hid this perceived disgrace. Why? Because no one talked about it, so decades of ignorance continued unchanged. And families continued to agonize in silence never dreaming that their neighbors shared the same struggles.

We learned that even though a family finally confronts the problem, they still can’t get the elephant out of their living room when company comes. And the astonishing discovery that so many of our friends had been silently enduring this distress we shared renewed our determination to be open about our own experiences.

A few decades ago, people didn’t talk about breast or prostate cancer, either. It took public figures being honest about these diseases to focus public attention and demand research for treatments. Each of us whose life has been touched by addiction can take part in the revolution to make addiction a public health priority, to force insurance companies and employers to treat it as they would any disease, and to stamp out the public mistrust of those who suffer from it. We can all become innkeepers, and in the process learn that it makes our own way easier, too.

MDMA treatment centers in florida

FAQ’s Prescription Drug Detox Treatment

If you are concerned that someone you know may be abusing prescription drugs, here are a few important questions to consider.

What prescription drugs are most frequently abused?

While any prescription drug can be abused, the most common types include opioids, depressants, and stimulants. Opioids are used for pain management, depressants are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants are typically used to treat attention disorders such as ADHD.

How quickly can a person become addicted to prescription drugs?

This depends on a lot of factors, such as the type of drug, the person’s age and gender, the family’s history of substance abuse, and the level of abuse of the drug. Opioids are much more addictive than other types of drugs, so a dependency can form much more quickly. However, any type of prescription drug that is misused over a length of time runs the risk of creating an addiction.

What are the physical signs of prescription drug abuse?

The physical signs of prescription drug abuse will very depending on the type of drug that is being abused. Opioid abuse can result in constipation, nausea, feelings of euphoria, slowed breathing, drowsiness, confusion, and poor coordination. Depressant abuse can result in unsteady walking, slurred speech, problems with memory, drowsiness, and poor concentration. Stimulant abuse can result in reduced appetite, agitation, increased body temperature, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, anxiety, and paranoia. Other signs to look for include someone who is stealing prescription medication, taking higher doses than prescribed, seems hostile when confronted about their drug use, or is seeing more than one doctor for prescription drugs.

What are effective treatment options for prescription drug addiction?

There are many effective types of drug addiction treatment centers available. Depending on the level of abuse and type of drug, these include rehabilitation, behavioral therapies, support groups, and medication.

What is the detoxification, or “detox” period?

The detox period is when the addict allows their body to rid itself of the drug they have been abusing. In addition to not taking that drug, this often includes drinking large amounts of water to flush out the system, exercising to burn off any of the drug that the body has stored, and eating certain foods that aid the liver in detoxifying the body. Detox centers in Florida are plenty as the Sunshine state attracts a heavy influx of drugs due to the warm weather and party scenes due to tourism.

What is the difference between detoxification and withdrawal?

The detoxification period refers to removing the drug from the person’s system, while withdrawal is actually the physical symptoms that result from the detox. These can be very sever and unpleasant, occasionally requiring medication to ease the symptoms. They can include diarrhea, vomiting, muscle pain, restlessness, depression, and feelings of dysphoria. Depending on how sever the addition was, the withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks.

Where can detailed educational materials be obtained about prescription drug abuse?

The best places to find information about a specific type of prescription drug abuse include medical or government-based internet sites, pamphlets at local doctor’s offices and hospitals, or speaking directly with a professional at a local rehab facility.

What is drug addiction?

Many people think that getting addicted to drugs is basically a sociological problem, and we tend to characterize those people as ‘morally weak’. The feeling that they are inferior people that have a weak moral compass has something to do with how drug addiction is perceived in our society. One of the most common beliefs that people have when it comes to getting rid of drug addiction is that they can simply stop using the products. If it was so easy, and people would really change their behavior, one would not have any drug addicts, they argue. However, what most of them do not understand is that there is a lot of complexity associated with drug addiction.

The viewpoint of getting addicted to drugs

Most of the people addicted to drugs find that there is a lot of vulnerability in their immune system when it comes to getting rid of their drug addiction. It is more like a disease that ends up impacting their brain, and simply stopping the use of drugs is not a matter of willpower. There are scientific advancements that have taken great strides towards understanding how drugs work and how they impact the brain. Today, we are much closer to understanding exactly how drugs impact the human body than we were a decade ago, with these new advancements it will be easier to combat drug addiction.

Of course, people would want to stop using drugs and get back to their normal lives but it isn’t that easy, one of biggest problems when quitting drugs is the withdrawal symptoms, this is usually the hardest phase in the rehab process.

Addition is a disease of the brain

Drug addiction – the beginning of the journey

For a drug addict, addiction is often compared to having a brain disease that can enable them to compulsively seek out drugs and use them, despite knowing that it can be harmful to the body. It is more a fair comparison to having a disease in the brain that cannot only change the structure in the functioning, but also holds true for its rampant and negligent use in the human body.

Of course, the initial decision of making use of drugs always lies in the hands of the user. However, the repeated use can convert a simple person into a drug addict. That person loses any self-control and the ability to make a sound decision. Their brain is unable to think normally due to the intense impulse that is formed by taking the drugs on a daily basis.

How to tackle drug addiction?

Just like any other chronic diseases in your body like asthma, diabetes and diseases in the heart, you can also manage drug addiction pretty effectively. However, it is also not uncommon to hear people relapsing and effectively making use of drugs on a larger scale. Hence, one should look into effective programs that can promise you treatment over a larger period of time so as to gradually wean out the effect of drugs in the body. There are various forms of alternative treatment that can also help a person regain total control over their body, effectively enabling themselves to recover and get rid of their addiction.