Host: Dr Sam Shay,The Health Detective
Recording: How does Alcohol Addiction affect the brain with Vanita Dahia and Dr Sam Shay – listen or download here 00:59:52 29.6MB
Live online: http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=1bbaec44-c299-4cd6-b247-7576a3cc4060
Radio station: Wellington Access Radio 783AM – New Zealand
Show notes below
How does alcohol addiction affect the brain?
Dr Sam Shay interviewed Vanita Dahia on neurotransmission disruption and natural treatment approaches on Alcohol Addiction.
Addictions can take many faces, affecting people of any age race or sex and it is most commonly associated with alcoholism, drugs and cigarettes.
When you crave chocolate and cannot put it down until it’s all finished, it is an addiction! You may become irrational without your sugar fix. Prescription and over-the-counter pain medication, sedatives and stimulants are also increasingly being abused.
No addict wants to be addicted.
Addiction is a chronic compulsive behaviour that can be harmful to the body. An addict adheres to their addiction to change everyday life from the unbearable to the bearable.
Addictions don’t only include the physical things we consume such as drugs, coffee, chocolate or alcohol but may include behaviours such as gambling.
Psychoactive substances have the potential to cross the blood–brain barrier, altering the chemical balance in the brain. The psychological dependency can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, rejection, fear, anxiety and hopelessness.
Signs and symptoms of addiction can include:
- increased or decreased appetite
- social isolation
- taking risks
- financial strain
- relationship problems
There is not a single gene that causes alcoholism. Alcohol however acts as a GABA, a relaxing neurotransmitter agonist. In addition, alcohol is often high in Histamine, another neurotransmitters which affects methylation. High histamine as seen in alcoholics is associated with poor sleep, depression and allergies. Low levels of serotonin cause cravings, lack of motivation, anxiety and depression. Low levels of glutamate cause fatigue.
Dopamine depletion at the initial phases can cause addictions; further depletion can lead to repetitive behaviours as seen in OCD. Gross depletion is associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Alcohol also lowers choline necessary for SAMe production, a master methyl donor which can manifest as body aches.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that provides antioxidant protection and has been shown to be beneficial for paracetamol overdose, alcohol and cannabis use.
NAC is used to treat various psychiatric disorders and addictions to alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana or cannabis. NAC has been shown to restore normal regulation of glutamate release, which in turn reduces addictions to drug seeking behaviours.