Oriental Medicine and Health Services

Addiction Therapy

Addiction Therapy

What is Addiction?

  • Much controversy and debate over definition
  • A recurring compulsion to engage in some specific activity
  • Dependency is also a key factor
  • Physical dependency
    • Withdrawal symptoms - can be mild or serious, headaches, seizures, or even death
  • Psychological dependency
    • Withdrawal symptoms - cravings, irritability, insomnia, depression, anorexia

How does Addiction start?

  • Many different ideas and models, clearly not just one way.
  • Initially, the addictive behavior or substance causes pleasure. People continue for fun.
  • Later, the absence of the behavior or substance causes displeasure, anxiety, etc. People continue in order to avoid discomfort and pain

Can anyone become addicted?

  • Yes. There are, however, many risks factors.
  • Personality
    • Depression, attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, aggressive nature, lack of self-control
  • Social environment
    • Peer pressure, lack of parental attachment or supervision
  • Anxiety, depression, loneliness
    • People develop coping mechanisms
  • Genetics
    • If you have family members who are addicts, you are more likely to become an addict
  • Type of substance / drug
    • Some drugs are highly physically addictive

The Chemistry of Addiction

  • Dopamine - a neurotransmitter
    • Though other neurotransmitters and aspects of brain chemistry are affected in the addiction process, dopamine has the biggest role.
    • Dopamine affects brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain.
    • Regulation of dopamine plays a crucial role in our mental and physical health.
    • Some drugs can bind to dopamine receptor sites on neurons, thereby increasing the amount of free dopamine in your brain.
    • Likewise, pleasurable activity also increases dopamine levels.
    • Repeated states of those high dopamine levels causes desensitization, also known as tolerance, which is the brain's way of trying to maintain homeostasis, or 'even things out'.
    • The result is that the person will need more of the substance or behavior in order to get pleasure.
    • By this time, a physical or psychological dependence may have developed.
    • Then, the person needs to continue in order to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, rather than for pleasure.

Chinese Medical Treatment

  • Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture
    • Auricular acupuncture is the most widely used Chinese medical treatment for addiction, with over 1500 centers worldwide, including about 800 in the USA.