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Link between Neurotransmitter receptors and Addiction


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What are neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are naturally excreted in the brain, they are acetyl choline, dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and GABA (Gamma-Amino-Butyric-Acid).

They function in the transmission of the nerve signals throughout the body. They also function in many processes that our bodies carry out such as sleeping, memory regulation, mood and behavior. They also regulate the body’s stimulation and the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction when they are secreted by the brain’s reward system.

But, how is addiction related to neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters perform all of their functions together through different secretion ratios in the brain. But not all of us have equal amounts of neurotransmitters secreted in our brains, imbalances are so common, for example, nearly 85% of the population have low levels of serotonin secreted in their brains which makes them more tending to get addicted to a substance or a behavior to replace the missing neurotransmitter and feel better.

The imbalances of neurotransmitters cause many problems and balancing those helps a lot to overcome these problems which are: severe headaches, migraine, ADHD, addiction, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, focus and memory problems. But detecting neurotransmitters levels is helpful in rebalancing them in order to treat the situation.

We think that those imbalances of neurotransmitters are mainly due to early deprivation, abuse, trauma, dysfunctional attachment and genetic disorders and on the long term lead to addiction.

Neurotransmitters are classified according to their action in to inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters, each type is affected by addictive drugs through a special mechanism. Their normal levels in the brains are crucial for good brain health.

Explained as follows:

Inhibitory neurotransmitters:

They are neurotransmitters that inhibit the stimulation of neurotransmitters, examples of them are: GABA and serotonin.

GABA and serotonin are involved in bringing calmness and pleasure, they are secreted in parts of the brain to prevent excessive stimulation, and the decrease in the level of GABA causes involuntary motor actions including tremors, seizures and anxiety. While decreased amount of serotonin secretion causes depression.

Taking inhibitory drugs as alcohol lead to more and more decrease in the secretion of these neurotransmitters.

Excitatory neurotransmitters:

They include Dopamine which is involved in motivation, emotion, feelings, learning and also pleasure feeling when released by the reward system of the brain.

Dopamine secretion increases after taking addictive drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and other stimulants, but after many successive dosages of the drug, the level of dopamine secreted decreases gradually so the addict doesn’t experience the pleasure feeling he’s used to, leading to a biologic demand to the addicted drugs to replenish the depleted dopamine leading to the dependence to the drug.

Treatment of addiction:

Up till now all the trials used to reactivate the receptors of different neurotransmitters have failed. And a group of agonists are being used.


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