Addiction from a biochemical point of view

Addictions are often seen as a kind of moral negligence or weakness of the addicts. This social view of addictions is unjustified and does not contribute to the solution for the addict. Addictions never arise from a faulty mind, but from the biochemical state of the brain. Like getting a tumor, becoming addicted to a substance is probably both what happens to a person because of how nature works. How our brain works dictates what we think and what we do. Let's discuss addictions. It's not a shame, but we can do something about it together.

Addicted to narcotic drugs aka downers?

GHB, Alcohol and cannabis are substances that fall under the narcotic category of drugs. These downers are often used to relax and can have an addictive effect for restless people. By stimulating GABA receptors, the calming effect is created, which releases dopamine. Dopamine is, among other things, a reward neurotransmitter, which makes it even more addictive, especially for people who already have low dopamine levels. It is precisely in these individuals that the combination of GABA and DHEA can significantly increase the chance of successfully kicking the habit of these addictive substances. Various studies (here and here) suggest that the activation of GABA receptors and the increased DHEA concentration give statically better chances to quit addictive substances.

And the addictive uppers?

Uppers are stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA. A similar process also plays a role in the uppers. Instead of GABA playing a major role, dopamine now plays a larger role. Almost anything with an addictive effect uses how our dopamine receptors work and influences stimulus conduction in the brain. Addictions such as gambling, porn and social media and food (sugars) also use this system. The more sensitive someone is to dopamine (for example, in case of overstimulation, ADD/ADHD, low concentrations of dopamine or loneliness), the more grip an addiction can have. In the treatment of addictive uppers, the combination of DHEA and tyrosine can help, but also GABA. Tyrosine is a building block of dopamine, among other things.

Epigenetics also play a role

A relatively new area for science is the role of genetics and epigenetics in addictions. Some people are already more susceptible to addictions because of the inherited genes. Certain types of drugs can turn genes on and off and this is what we call epigenetics. This process can create a new balance in signal substances that can make an addiction worse. The following video is for those who are interested in epigenetics and have some understanding of biochemistry terms.

How to stop the addiction?

We previously wrote that the substances DHEA, GABA and tyrosine can help curb the craving for dopamine (addiction). This increases the chance of successfully stopping the addiction with such a 38% according to the aforementioned DHEA study. GABA has an extra positive effect in tackling addiction in downers and tyrosine in uppers.

Psychedelics are known to significantly increase the chance of success. In addition to the change in the balance of neurotransmitters, which can already work very well against addiction, it may also be that it switches certain genes on or off again, making the addiction even easier to treat. The serotonergic effect of psychedelics is known to act via the 5HT receptors and thus also BDNF receptors to influence epigenetics.

Our approach to addictions

In trip therapy we use different methods at the same time. Firstly, after starting a trajectory, we advise which food and supplements can help you restore neurochemistry. The suggested supplements can therefore be those mentioned earlier or a combination that suits the individual better. These recommendations are made on the basis of the intake and the neurotransmitter test. With addictions, we often recommend doing a dopamine detox for a few days before doing a psychedelic session. After about two weeks after the start of a trajectory, use psychedelic sessions to bring the brain into even more balance. Sometimes it is the insights that help to stop permanently. It could also be the physical changes in the brain that occur after such a session.

Want to know more?

Use the links below to learn more about how the different elements of addiction treatment work together for best results.

Dopamine | Dopamine detox | GABA | Serotonin | Psilocybin against addictions

This post on MDMA therapy was taken from trip therapy

Trip therapy: GABA, DHEA and psilocybin against addiction?