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Oxytocin and Addictions (drugs, smoking)

March 17, 2013 Oxytocin and Addiction No Comments

Our nervous system and our endocrine system are both hugely influential over our lives. The way we think, talk, act, remember, believe and function within a social society are all heavily influenced by the secretion of hormones from glands in the brain and body, which have been designed and refined over the course of human evolution to kick in when we need them, and deliver the beneficial effects that we all know so well.

Oxytocin and Drug Addiction

Chemical use and addiction is intimately involved with hormone production, and neurotransmitter function within the brain. Take cocaine for instance. This substance blocks neurons from re-taking the hormones dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine that it releases across a synapse. This leads to excess hormones in the synaptic gap, causing elevated bodily responses from the elevated hormone levels, such as increased energy and confidence.

Oxytocin is a hormone similar to the ones Can Oxytocin Help with Nicotine and Drug Addictions?mentioned here, and so it makes sense to assume that oxytocin could certainly have effects on those suffering from drug addictions. This has been an area in need of research for a long time, but oxytocin has been shown to inhibit certain drug functions (Kovacs et al., 1998), while being at least partly responsible for the action of drugs like MDMA. These effects are not as important as the positive effects that oxytocin could have at the larger social and emotional scale of drug dependence however, in a field which is lacking just as much research. A link between oxytocin and dopamine is suggesting that control could be placed on addiction, and especially the social forces that preclude addictive behavior, by use of oxytocin.

Drug abusers become accustomed to the positive feelings they get through using, which makes abstinence highly difficult. The bonding becomes emotional in the same way that emotions are formed through human bonding, and in a similar way to the pain felt with breakups is felt with separation from other such things which cause pleasure. Could this make oxytocin a potential candidate for drug rehabilitation? The powerful ink between drugs, social behavior and oxytocin has lead to a report by the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney in which it is stated “oxytocin may play an important, yet largely unexplored, role in drug addiction. Greater understanding of this role may ultimately lead to novel therapeutics for addiction that can improve mood and facilitate the recovery of persons with drug use disorders.”

The Power of Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a peptide created in the hypothalamus, which acts as both a neurotransmitter and a hormone in the body. As a neurotransmitter it is important in brain functioning and the spinal cord, and as a hormone it has many critical actions, including:

  • Child birth and breastfeeding – The first two uses of oxytocin to be discovered were for uterine contraction and cervical dilation during child birth, and for the letdown reflex which allows women to breastfeed.
  • Social interaction and behavior – There is a growing body of evidence to link oxytocin with the regulation of brain functioning with regards to social functioning (1). More specifically, oxytocin is deemed to promote feelings of contentment, bonding and trust within a social system, while reducing antonymous feelings such as fear, distrust and anxiety. Oxytocin is also important to romantic interaction, in which the same emotional benefits of intimacy and close contact apply (it isn’t called the ‘love hormone’ for nothing!). This fits well with the known response of the body to oxytocin – the increase of calmness and the reduction of stress.

Is Oxytocin Available?

Oxytocin is well known to reduce anxiety and social problems in people, helping to prevent general worry, improve relationships and quality of life in general, and to prevent further problems down the road that link to stress. This makes it a popular medication for non-prescription and prescription, and oxytocin is freely available at pharmaceutical shops and online. Oxytocin Factor is an effective and affordable supplement to treat stress and all of its related symptoms, which comes in either a sublingual formulation or as a nasal spray. It is always best to speak with a physician before you take any oxytocin supplements.

(1)- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689929/?tool=pmcentrez

For more information contact Bryan Post, Managing Editor of Oxytocin Central info@oxytocincentral.com or call (405) 476-1983

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