Pavlovian Alcohol and Drug Abuse Associations
Addiction and alcohol dependency is an associative and memory disorder which has afflicted humankind for many thousands of years. The ancient Sumerians were getting intoxicated on opium centuries before Christ was born and Native Americans regularly consumed good sized quantities of peyote long before the Americas were even dreamt of. Then again, the theory of addiction as a sickness is one which has met with a level of resistance by a few regardless of the easily perceptible neurological attributes of the illness. Maybe it’s because it’s such an old ailment that just lately classifying it as a disease is challenging for some to accept? No matter what the circumstance may be, scientific studies have indicated that dependence is unquestionably a progressive, manageable but possibly deadly condition – even among animals.
The University of Texas at Austin completed a scientific study not long ago which affirmed the occurrence of addictive traits in mice which were exposed to chemicals such as cocaine or ETOH. These substances triggered a flurry of neural activity in the reward and pleasure center of the brain. This reward section is located in the brains of both humans and rodents – among quite a few other types of animals, leading to the conclusion that comparable end result may be projected with various other mammals. Once subjected to these addictive chemicals, associations were recorded by the brain concerning the circumstance of the reward. And since the substances elicited a pleasurable feeling, neurological pathways in the brain expanded to support and try to replicate this reward sensation.
(Genetically modified mice – f*cking scientists, whats next? Here is a link
Addiction and Alcohol Dependency Research
And yet, most of this was just the first phase of the scientific study. The second phase used two groups of rodents and exposed one group to daily doses of alcohol and the other was given only saline for several days. Following that, both groups were placed in cages which consisted of rectangle-shaped corridors with two rooms at the end. One room had textured floors and white-colored walls while the other had a mesh floor and black walls. Neither of the two group of rodents displayed any preference for either room. The test subjects were then given cocaine in one of the rooms. What took place after that left no doubt of the Pavlovian/Associative attributes of the disease of addiction.
Once subjected to to cocaine, a significant number of the rodents who were given saline injections in the introductory portion of the test afterwards showed a strong preference for the room that cocaine had been given in the following portion of the study. However, the test subjects which had previously been administered alcohol spent twice as much time in the area where cocaine had been employed. This established that once a mouse had been exposed to alcohol in an amount and period of time equivalent to human ‘binge drinking,’ they unmistakably preferred the surroundings where additional substances stimulated the corresponding reward center reactions.
This is quite comparable to what Pavlov found in the Case of the Drooling Dogs. In which the noise of a bell at eating time subsequently instigated the dogs to drool even though it was not time to eat, the mice that developed enjoyable associations with alcohol and cocaine were subsequently motivated to linger in an environment where these rewards had on one occasion been received. This is incredibly important information for any individual who has suffered from dependency or alcohol dependency, because the interactions that they have with drug use can prompt relapses or slips later in recovery if not correctly handled.
This associative attribute of addiction and alcohol dependency is why it’s so critical to stay away from the environment you used in if you expect to stand a chance of success. That is why therapy for dependency and alcohol addiction most frequently happens in residential rehab clinics or out-patient programs where an individual can be extracted from drug related surroundings and associations and concentrate completely on their addiction recovery.