Have you ever wondered why addicts excessively abuse drugs when they feel stressed or pressured? Well, scientists in South Korea have located the substance in the body responsible for this addiction phenomenon.
What’s most exciting about this is that it opens new doors into helping recovering addicts to prevent the possibility of suffering a relapse, which causes them to use drugs after completing an addiction treatment program.
The risk of suffering a relapse are at its highest in the early stages after addiction treatment and it’s common for recovering addicts to experience at least one after rehab.
Stress has been proven to be one of the main factors that cause recovering addicts to suffer a relapse, but how it actually increases the chances of it were unknown – until now.
According to the team of scientists from the Seoul National University and Korea University, they confirmed that the dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2), causes synapses (which is a small gap at the end of a neuron that allows information to pass from one neuron to the next) to change while an addict is under the influence of drugs.
Dopamine is a chemical found in the brain which influences our feelings, body movement and our sense of happiness and sadness.
When these synapses change, it causes the recovering addict to want to use drugs when they are under stress. The effects that the dopamine receptor had on relapses were confirmed by the team of South Korean scientists, when they tested it on two groups of mice which were addicted to cocaine and placed under stress.
The first group consisted of normal mice, while the other group of mice lacked the DRD2 chemical. The scientists discovered that under stress, the normal mice were more vulnerable to relapse than the mice that lacked the dopamine receptor.
Baik Ja-hyun, one of the main scientists in this study said that the findings may have paved the way to treat relapses.
“The study is significant in that it has confirmed stress is more linked to repeat addiction than to first-time addiction and by verifying the work of dopamine receptor D2 in the process, suggesting a possible way to treat repeat drug addiction, which is one of most difficult neurological disorders to be treated,” said Ja-hyun.