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The Love Hormone & Addiction

By: ATSI Admin April 2, 2014 no comments

The Love Hormone & Addiction

oxytocin_love_pheromone_by_jossie088-d5r1sa3Why are some people more prone to addiction than others? For decades, scientists have been trying to answer this question—and recently, researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia made a connection between the hormone oxytocin and drug addiction.

Oxytocin, often referred to as the “bonding hormone” or “love hormone” plays a large role in intimacy between partners, and also in the maternal bonding formed after a baby is born. Researchers know this is a complex system not fully developed until the age of three, but their recent study raises questions about how lower levels of oxytocin can increase the risk of addiction as an adult.

Oxytocin Levels Matter

A number of factors can lead to unbalanced levels of oxytocin. Stress, trauma, infection and exposure to drugs can all lead to a decrease in oxytocin responsiveness. Oxytocin is a hormone designed to help the body deal with stress and increase resilience. “A well-developed oxytocin system is in a position to directly and indirectly increase resilience, for example by reducing drug reward, increasing social reward, reducing anxiety, reducing stress response and immune stimulation,” said Dr. Femke Buisman-Pijlman, head researcher on this project.

Oxytocin and Addiction

The study found that children with lower levels of oxytocin were at a greater risk for developing drug or alcohol addiction as adults. It is unclear how oxytocin actually impacts an individual’s health and why people with lower levels would end up using drugs or alcohol. We do know, however, that stress and stress management (or lack thereof) plays a huge role in the development of addiction. Individuals not able to manage stress and don’t have effective ways to deal with the pressures of life are more likely to abuse drugs.

Researchers will continue to study hormones like oxytocin to help determine effective prevention and treatment methods. In the meantime, these researchers hope their results will help doctors and treatment providers better understand the history behind the development of some addictive disorders.

A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction and alcoholism affect millions of Americans and their families. Oftentimes, individuals can point to a certain situation or experience that directly contributed to their addiction. Addiction is such a complex disorder, however, that usually a number of different factors contribute to its development.

Anyone seeking help for addiction should enroll in a treatment program that addresses individual needs. A multi-dimensional approach is usually best, as different therapy methods will help in some but not all areas. Whether it is rooted in a hormone imbalance, emotional trauma or any other factor that contributes to the addiction, any and all areas of concern must be addressed. Through one-on-one therapy, group therapy, family therapy and stress management techniques, individuals can get to the heart of their addiction and fully recover.

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