Food, abused drugs and sexual interests share a common pathway within our brains’ survival and reward systems

Brain CoordinationStudies indicate that food, abused drugs and sexual interests share a common pathway within our brains’ survival and reward systems. This pathway leads into the area of the brain responsible for our higher thinking, rational thought and judgment. When an addict’s brain takes over that survival and reward pathway, it tells the person that having illicit sex and inappropriate thoughts are good for them the same way the brain tells a normal person that food is require when he is hungry. These changes in brain’s reward pathway translate into a sex addict’s obsession with sex and of other related activities such as obligatory sexual behavior despite understanding the ill effect of this behavior on oneself. This lack of sense of self harm is also followed my failed attempts to limit of completely terminated such sexual activities.

The idea that a person can be addicted to food has recently gotten more support from science. It is even perfectly fine to say that over eating and eating disorders are a form of addiction, obesity is not a life style, if it’s a food related obesity problem then it’s the outcome of addiction to over eating. Addiction plays weird games with our reward system; scientists have discovered that for some people the same reward system is activated through food (especially eatables rich in sugar and fat) which is generally activated by the consumption of addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Like these addictive drugs, for these people certain foods trigger feel-good feelings resulting in the release a dopamine; a hormone that is associated with pleasure through reward system. The pleasures they get from high levels of dopamine make them feel the need to eat again and again to gain the same form of satisfaction.

Now comes drug addiction, many of us fail to understand how people get addicted to drugs, it’s a common misconception that drug addicts lack moral principles and will power because otherwise they could simply choose to change their behavior. That’s not how drug addiction works; drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting requires much more than a strong will power to change this behavior. In reality many of drug addicts really want to quit but they simply can’t. It is because of the change drugs have brought in their brain’s reward system that forces them to even commit compulsive drug abuse. It’s an established fact that the initial decision of taking drugs in most of the cases is voluntary but the later consequences and changes in brain that occur over period of time severely  compromises a person’s self control and hamper his ability to resist the strong urges of taking drugs.

Sexual addiction somehow follows the same patterns of addiction as food and drugs. It fools ones reward system into thinking that this is the ultimate pleasure and without this, survival is impossible. A sexual addict’s brain start making a person believe that sex is as important as food, just like a normal person have to eat three or more time a day, a sex addict has to do or plan such activities as many times to survive. What he fails to recognize is the lack of balance and control. Even eating more than necessary is detrimental to health, having sexual urges more than required are devastating for the addict as well as the society.

All of these forms of addictions manifest themselves in similar fashion however the mechanism and factor behind how a person gets addicted to food and sex and how the reward system is being changed are not very clear. In the case of drugs it’s comparatively easier to explain how our brain gets affected by drugs. Drugs contain certain chemicals that alter the brain’s communication system and interrupt the ways in which our nerve cells send, receive and process information signals. There are two major ways through which drugs can disrupt normal brain function. Firstly by mimicking the brain’s natural chemical messengers and secondly by over stimulation of our brain’s reward circuit.

Some drugs have similar structures like our chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are naturally produced in the brain and are key role players in our chemical signaling pathways. The similarity of drugs allows them to fool brain receptors and stimulate nerve cells to send abnormal messages. Other drugs, such as cocaine have the ability to cause the nerve cells to release strangely hefty quantities of natural neurotransmitters such as dopamine. These signals also hinder the regular recycling of these brain chemicals, which is required to shut off the signaling between neurons. The result is a brain drenched in dopamine, which is present in those regions of brain that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Due to the over activation of this reward system (normally responding to natural behaviors associated with survival such as eating and spending time with loved ones) certain euphoric effects are produced in response to psychoactive drugs. This reaction ensures a recurring pattern that teaches people to repeat the rewarding behavior of abusing drugs.

It is evident from the researches addictions apart from drugs, such as food and sexual, are caused by a greater tendency of impulsivity. Those individuals, who have been more impulsive easily fall prey to addiction. Once the addiction successfully alters the reward and survival pathways, the manifestation of addiction becomes exactly like someone is addicted to a substance. There is a pressing need of understanding these addictions and formulating integrated solutions that can counter addiction and related symptoms in more efficient way. For this purpose we are organizing a “Integrative Addiction Conference” whose sole focus is on addiction and its integrative solutions. If you are a health professional, a professor, a practicing psychologist or even a student, this conference is a great opportunity to contribute in these fields of knowledge. Our main topics deal with the same niche as of this article, so register right away and get maximum benefits through our link below