Biochemical Addiction and Human Behavior

Addiction is of many kinds, there may be a drug addiction or interpersonal relationship addiction. These different addictions may vary in a lot of ways but there are still common mechanisms that bind them together. Addiction also refers to a recurring compulsion of an individual to do something despite their harmful consequences to one’s health, mental state or social life. This term may also be applied to some compulsions as gambling and overeating. Biochemical addiction is “self-induced changes in neurotransmission that result in social problem behaviors” Milkman (1983).

Biochemical addiction may not only refer to the cases of substance abuse but to activity characterized by compulsion, loss of control and continuation of the substance despite harm. Self-induced changes because they are the ones who caused these changes in the neurotransmissions that had equal behavioral changes. As psychopharmacology is a study of drug-induced changes in the behavior of a person, as well as the mood, sensation and thinking, this issue may be of help to understand clearly how drugs may alter the behavior of a person.

What could possibly the actions of the drugs that may affect its neurotransmission and in turn affect the behavior of the person? Some people who underwent an intolerable experience may undergo treatment that may make them addicted to the drug used. Say for example, people who get depressed get temporary arousal from stimulants. Those who may be under stress may choose opiates as their mode of treatment. A person’s psychological state is affected by the medicines that he is taking. How could possibly drugs alter the behavior of the person? What are the activities involved in the synaptic terminals that affects this kind of behavior?

What are the neurotransmitters that are responsible for the said changes of the behavior in human beings? These and more will be discussed as take a closer look at biochemical addiction and changes in human behavior. Neurotransmission has to do with addiction. This process occurs in the Central Nervous System (CNS) composed of the Spinal Cord and the brain. The neurons, composed of a body, axon and dendrites, are the one responsible for the transmission of the signals from the body to the brain and from the brain to the body. Neurotransmitters are then released from the pre-synaptic terminals into the synaptic junction.

Then these neurotransmitters may then either be integrated into the post-synaptic membrane where if they are collected in sufficient amounts, the membrane will depolarize and transmit the signal, or neurotransmitters may be degraded by enzymes. In the post- synaptic terminal if there are neurotransmitters that would be bound to certain receptors would activate the enzyme adenylate cyclase that would convert adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) which in turn affects membrane sensitivity and subsequent neurotransmission.

With a disruption in this process caused by any stimulus may change the transmission of the signals and an equivalent behavioral manifestation may be seen. Stimulants may cause an increased neurotransmission. Within the pre-synaptic terminal, there are certain enzymes that may degrade neurotransmitters. If this happens these neurotransmitters never reach the post synaptic nerve terminal and the impulse will not be transmitted. Disruption in the neural networks can result to abnormal and addictive behavior.

Say for example if Haldol is given and post-synaptic receptors are occupied by dopamine, it would occupy the same receptors but not allowing dopamine to bind. The blocking then would inhibit overactive neurotransmission associated with Schizophrenia thus controlling the mood swings commonly observed in schizophrenia patients. Cocaine if taken prevents degradation of the neurotransmitter in the junction available to the post-synaptic membrane which causes overly saturated receptors resulting to over-active transmission of the electrical impulse that results in increased state of arousal (Chien, 1969).

Other areas where disruption may occur are located in the pre-synaptic terminal. Inside the terminal are monoamine oxidases which degrade dopamine and norepinephrine. If there is too much MOA would cause depression in some people thus giving MOA inhibitors may resolve this depression (Chien, 1969) Disruption in the cAMP system would also cause changes in behaviors. If there is an increase in cAMP there would be a decrease in adenyl cyclase, then would result to a decrease in production of cAMP neurotransmissions are also slowed thus causes changes in mood (Chien, 1969).

There are also disruptions that cause decrease in neurotransmission. There are substances or activities that cause this decrease in neurotransmission such as barbiturates or meditation that result to the release of endorphins or enkephalins which would act as the body’s own opiates. They would attach themselves to the pre-synaptic terminals that cause a decrease in the neurotransmitter. This then results to slower neurotransmission and in turn results in the effect desired by satiation-prone individuals. This activity increases adenyl cyclase, which would increase cAMP thus increasing again the neurotransmission.

In long exposure to this, the person may exhibit tolerance thus there would be a need to increase the activity or substance to achieve the desired effect. If there is a stoppage of the activity or substance this then may increase the quantity of cAMP and the rate of neurotransmission thus resulting in an agitation mood of an individual withdrawing from opiate ingestion or satiation activities (Chien, 1969). These are the evidences that people would have changes in their behavior as they are into biochemical addiction.

Changes in the amount of the neurotransmitters may affect the transmission of the signals causing some unwanted mood or behavioral changes. Some who take in drugs may not want the effects of the said drug but they are not in control of their moods or behavior at this time. They are being controlled by the effect of the said drug to their body. What then is the effect of this issue in biological psychology? This issue may help us understand the mechanisms on how some drugs or activities may cause a change in the behavior of the person.

This may also help us understand why people, who are under the influence of drugs act the way they do. Also in this way we can see how drugs can affect one’s emotion, one’s mood and one’s behavior. Drug addiction, as it is one of the most discussed problems of the society nowadays, may be decreased through the help of information dissemination. People if properly informed about drug addiction and its effects may think twice before indulging themselves into the vice. Having enough knowledge of what drugs causes these kinds of effects, they may choose what drugs to take or what drugs to avoid.

Thus it is very important that the mechanism of addiction be understood by the people (Jaffe, 1980). Addiction may not only mean addiction to drugs. Thus people must also be aware when an activity may cause them addiction. They must also know when enough is enough of an activity. If a person feels that he needs to do the same thing over and over just to satisfy himself, he should at the earliest possible time learn to discipline himself to avoid addiction, thus preventing negative behavioral changes that it may cause in the later part.

References: • Chein I. 1969. Psychological functions of drug use. In Scientific Basis of Drug Dependence, ed. Steinberg H. London: Churchill • Jaffe, JH. 1980. Drug addiction and drug abuse. In Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, eds. Gilman AG, Goodman LS, Gilman BA. 6th Edition. New York: MacMillan • Milkman H, Sunderwirth S. Oct. 1983. The Chemistry of Craving. Psychology Today, p. 36-44

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