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Entries from September 2007

Brain Neurotransmitters and Addiction

September 5th, 2007 · No Comments

Electrical signals in the brain are sent using chemicals called neurotransmitters. All addictive drugs affect the production, release, or elimination of neurotransmitters. The major Neurotransmitters implicated in addiction are noted below.

Serotonin

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) is synthesized from dietary tryptophan and its primary function is regulation of sleep and mood. Low levels of serotonin have been associated with mood disorders such as depression.

Medications called specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac and Zoloft, increase serotonin levels but can be very dangerous. You should consider taking the essential amino acid trytophan instead. Check with a holistic doctor for advice.

Norepinephrine (NE)

NE’s common function is associated with arousal and alertness. It is synthesized from the essential amino acid tyrosine. The levels of NE fluctuate throughout the day and therefore there are periods when we feel more awake and alert, while at other times we are tired and sleepy.

Certain drugs of abuse, such as stimulants or “uppers”, increase alertness and arousal and cause talkativeness, restlessness, and agitation because of their action on NE systems.

Dopamine

Dopamine release gives us the experience of pleasure and therefore causes us to want to repeat the behaviors necessary to acquire the reward in the future.

It’s interesting that amphetamine and cocaine both increase the amount of dopamine. However, cocaine achieves this action by preventing dopamine reuptake, while amphetamine helps to release more dopamine.

So, these drugs with similar effects produce their actions through entirely different processes. In turn, addiction to the two drugs may call for somewhat different types of addiction treatment.

GABA

Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is synthesized from glutamate (an amino acid) and is found in very high concentrations throughout the brain. It is considered an “inhibitory neurotransmitter”. Because GABA has inhibitory effects on neurons, any drug that increases the actions of GABA will decrease general brain activity and can be considered a “downer” or depressant. Depressants include alcohol, sleeping pills such as Ambien, muscle relaxants such as Valium, and barbiturates such as Secobarbital. Some depressants are very powerful and can cause coma or death.

The Most Addictive Drugs

Different drugs have different effects on the neurotransmitters. For instance, cocaine and methamphetamine are much more addicting than THC (marijuana) because they increase dopamine levels more quickly and to a greater extent.

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Tags: Drugs and Brain Disorders · Street Drugs

Quit Smoking Tip – Sunflower Seeds

September 4th, 2007 · No Comments

According to Martha Ashelman, author of Stop Smoking Naturally, research has shown that carrying raw or shelled sunflower seeds are particularly good for people trying to wean themselves from cigarettes. Every time you feel the desire to smoke, it is suggested that you go through the process of breaking seeds open and popping them into your mouth to munch on until the desire subsides.

Sunflower seeds contain compounds that mimic some of the effects of nicotine and can offer smokers some of the gratification they seek. They tend to have a mildly soothing sedative effect on the nervous system. They also trigger the release of glycogen from the liver, producing a temporary increase in brain activity and they raise the level of adrenal hormones in the body.

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Tags: Smoking - Nicotine Addiction

Quit Smoking Tip – Eat an Alkaline Diet

September 3rd, 2007 · No Comments

The body is continually trying to maintain a chemical balance – a state of homeostasis.

As a smoker, you are always on the brink of a serious condition because your body is acidic and is always struggling to be in balance. Think of a smoker as walking around “off-center”, leaning to one side.

Your health depends on the acid-base equilibrium of the body. This should be done with food – not drugs, because drugs will just make your body more acidic.

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Tags: Smoking - Nicotine Addiction