S. Alex Stalcup, M.D. New Leaf Treatment Center 251 Lafayette Circle, Suite 150 Lafayette, CA 94549 Tel: 925-284-5200 Fax: 925-284-5204 [email protected] www.nltc.com A 33-Year Follow-Up of Narcotics Addicts . What is a Drug? A drug is a pleasure producing chemical. Drugs activate or imitate chemical pathways in the
brain associated with feelings of well-being, pleasure and euphoria. Neuroadaptation, Tolerance, and Withdrawal Neuroadaptation protects the brain from the over stimulation caused by drugs, but is the initiating step in the addiction disease process. Tolerance is the sign that neuroadaption is occurring: it is the process by which the reward and pleasure centers of the brain adapt to high concentrations of pleasure neurotransmitters. In direct response to overstimulation, the brain regions decrease in sensitivity and become unresponsive (deaf) to normal levels of stimulation. In addition to pleasure circuits each drug type affects other brain functions, including calming, alerting, and pain relief functions.. Other brain pathways overstimulated by drugs also neuroadapt and become underactive, directly leading to anxiety, depression, loss of energy, and pain. Once neuroadaptation develops (tolerance), there will always be Withdrawal symptoms that are the
mirror image of the drug effects. Cessation of drug use leads to inversion of the high; sobriety becomes pleasureless, anxious, sleepless, lacking energy, and painful. Under unstimulated conditions (without drugs) there is profound interference with the ability to experience normal pleasure. When sober, the user experiences Craving: anhedonia, anxiety, anger, frustration. The pleasure system remains impaired for months to years, interfering with sobriety, learning, and impulse inhibition. Definition of Addiction Compulsion: loss of control The user cant not do it s/he is compelled to use. Compulsion is not rational and is not planned. Continued use despite adverse consequences An addict is a person who uses even though s/he knows it is causing problems. Addiction is staged based on adverse consequences.
Craving: daily symptom of the disease The user experiences intense psychological preoccupation with getting and using the drug. Craving is dysphoric, agitating and it feels very bad. Denial/hypofrontality: distortion of cognition caused by craving Under the pressure of intense craving, the user is temporarily blinded to the risks and consequences of using. Causes of Craving in Addicts EW M S Environmental cues (Triggers) immediate, catastrophic, overwhelming craving stimulated by people,
places, things associated with prior drug-use experiences Drug Withdrawal inadequately treated or untreated Mental illness symptoms inadequately treated or untreated Stress equals craving Effects and Withdrawal
Dysphoria Anxiety Insomnia Diarrhea Rhinorrhea Chills Pupils dilated Kindling One Year Outcome of Opiate Treatment Kakko J, et.al. 1-year retention and social function after buprenorphine-assisted relapse prevention treatment for heroin dependence in Sweden_ a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. 2003 The Lancet 361 (9358) 662-668
Overall, the dismal outcome for our controls reiterates the grave nature of heroin dependence, and shows the considerable health and social difficulties faced by our patients. Furthermore, the severity of problems in our patient sample is tragically emphasised by the 20% mortality in the controls over the course of a 1-year study.
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