Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Neuro-Chemical Rush!

It may seem pretty obvious why someone would be addicted to substances like alcohol or drugs, but how does it work with a “behavioural addiction” i.e. shopping, gambling, self cutting, anger etc? Research has found some amazing facts about behavioural addictions that just might surprise you.

Did you know that some of the latest brain imaging techniques suggests that the brain/body can’t really tell the difference between whether you’re getting “fired up” with booze/cocaine or “fired up” from overdoing it at the casino or shopping mall?

Neuro-chemically you’re still getting a “hit.” The “hit” is usually a big dose of dopamine and serotonin the “feel good” chemicals produced by the emotional part of your brain, the mesolimbic system. So, whether you’re hitting the casino, the bottle, crack pipe or credit card, you will experience a similar neuro-chemical and physiological response with all of them.

For example, those who struggle with compulsive sexual behaviour (aka “sex addiction”), are reported to experience and activate neuro-chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, androgens, norepinephrine, serotonin, vasopressin and oxytocin. Indeed it is quite a chemical cocktail! Which can also lead to seeking out activities, people and behaviours in a way that you can begin to lose control and experience destructive consequences to your finances, health, relationships, self esteem etc.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski