Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hey! What are you hooked on? Hooked on could mean any number of things from indigestible addictions to a type of exercise to even an out of control hobby. I’m hooked on to writing here. I guess hooked on means doing something or taking something you really do not need to survive but you like doing it and it feels good and I’m not just talking about sex.
What do you like? Some people call it your poison or your addiction. Is it legal or illegal? Whatever it is, you are hooked on from coffee to cocaine , smoking to sleeping yes some people like to sleep a lot too or eating a lot or not eating enough food. Well Nora Volkow probably knows a lot about your addiction. She is the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For three decades now she has literally been looking into the brains of addicts.
Her institute not onlyy looks at the brains of hard drug users, but at smokers and over eaters. We all know that there are plenty of people with these kinds of addictions. No one knows how we get so hooked and how bad habits are so hard to break. Doctor Nora
grew up in Mexico in a family with a famous ancestor and a tragic history. That is enough to make her totally addicted to something.
She has made history herself by challenging our old ideas about our addiction to addiction. We have heard and seen all the posters that say, “just say no to drugs” or say no to anything, but if it was that easy then we would have a perfect world with no addictions. We have to be honest. All of us have been in a situation where we were tempted by something, we didn’t want to do it, and we did not have the self control to stop it.
The way she thinks has revolutionized how science and medicine now view drug addiction. It has now become a disease not a character defect. Her research pinpoints how drug abuse can effect learning, memory and above all, self control. Drug addiction has now been classified as a chronic disease. Not just something to do on a weekend. Drugs can physically change the brain and those changes are very long lasting and persist for a long period of time after the person stops taking drugs. Hey, just look at clips of Ozzy Osbourne in the seventies and look at him now. Thirty years later he is a zombie.
A pioneer in using the MRI scanning test and using brain scans, she is figuring out the chemistry of addictions. She has examined hundreds of people throughout 30 years following their addictions and the critical substance dopamine which happens to be one of the main chemicals regulating pleasure centers in the brain. It is the mechanism by which nature motivates our behavior.
Thank goodness for dopamine because it has triggered in our brains that food and sex is pleasurable. After all, dopamine has saved us from extinction by making the key elements for survival of the species food and sex pleasurable. Dopamine sends signals to receptors in our brain saying , “This feels Good.” Show a hungry person a hamburger and the brain scan shows a dopamine rush.
The food stimulates a release of dopamine and the more they release the more you want the food. My Mom always said , “Suppress your cravings, think about something else.” So why do we have a problem with obesity in our society? It is because we are surrounded by posters and commercials and places to see, smell, and taste hamburgers anywhere easily found and no one says, “Go away, you have had enough food .” just show up with enough money, you can have all the hamburgers you want.
Perhaps this is why most of our favorite singers, actors , sports heroes and anyone with disposable income, yeah people with too much money end up dead from some sort of addiction. No one says, especially themselves “Stop It!” The too much money factor buys them whatever they want in whatever quantities they want as well. It is freedom and wealth gone wrong.
Images of a good looking cold drink or a great party with drugs produce similar signals in the brain which the addict can’t resist. Perhaps the advertisers should be arrested for my addictions and not me? Then with the addictions you can become conditioned to react. Show a cocaine addict a nature scene, a picture of lines of cocaine a desire will well up inside them. Please don’t let me see anything I can ingest.

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