Brain Science, Consciousness | Substance Abuse Beyond Dopamine | Pleasure | Reward

What happens that someone has an addiction but cannot tell loved ones, or let those close know? What does someone go through, to make addiction a necessity believing that nothing else helps?

How does the brain work addictions in general, including for substance use? What is the stretch of addictions in the brain? Is there an overlap with habits? There is a paper in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Prevalence and correlates of ever having a substance use problem and substance use recovery status among adults in the United States, 2018, where the result stated, “More than 1 in 10 adults (27.5 million) in the U.S. reported ever having a substance use problem, and, among those with a problem, nearly 75 % (20.5 million) reported being in recovery. Reporting lower prevalence of using substances in the past year and having received treatment for their substance use problem were associated with being in recovery. Ever having a mental health problem was highly prevalent among those reporting a substance use problem.”

There are several addiction categories outside substance use. The brain is what determines the experience of anything. It is within experience that thoughts, decisions and behaviors operate.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explained that, “Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit,” causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.

As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug to try and achieve the same high. These brain adaptations often lead to the person becoming less and less able to derive pleasure from other things.”

Dopamine is involved with reward but no one experiences dopamine, instead the high is what is experienced. Progress in the ongoing addiction battle is not just to continue to look at dopaminergic pathways in the brain, but at the mechanism of the experience of the high.

There are highs without substances. There are addiction situations beneath the tolerance level where the substance is used, but no high. There are random highs. There are highs but quickly displaced or concealed. There is no equal amount of high for those taking the same quantity of substance, at the similar levels of usage experience. There is no equal amount of high at different times, with the same quantity for the same person.

What is the high pathway of the brain? Reward circuit or dopamine does not explain it. This could also be a problem towards solving substance abuse because the understanding of the high experience has more answers than understanding cells and molecules, that are not experienced.

Substances become molecules in the body, these molecules induce or inhibit others in the brain. They can produce a high, just like the win of a preferred sport team or in a video game, or with other activities. This means that the experience of high is producible by molecules, starting with external ones or those internal.

There is a constant way that the brain makes these determinations. It is this constant that substances become subject to, as well as other habitual and addictive things. Habits are said to be by choice, in their difference from addictions, but sometimes addictions are done without the cravings, submitting what looks like being opted into.

In brain science, it is known that all senses transport to the thalamus, except for smell, to the olfactory bulb. It is where they are processed or integrated before relay to the cerebral cortex for interpretation.

This means that all external and internal senses have this established pathway, applicable to addictions and substances. It is theorized that sensory processing or integration is into a uniform unit or quantity which is thought or a form of thought. It is what becomes the version of senses. There is, conceptually, a thought version of every volume or mass of any incoming sense. It is what they become to the brain. It is what gets relayed to the cerebral cortex for interpretation. Interpretation is postulated to be knowing, feeling and reaction.

Knowing is memory, dominating and deciding mostly for the rest. There are two constants of the experiential mechanism of the brain: quantities and properties.

Thoughts are quantities. Memory is properties. It is what properties that quantities relay to that make determination for experiences at anytime. This is how experiences work in the brain, including for highs, substance abuse, mental health, overdose, consciousness and so forth.

Cells and molecules of the brain are constants that construct higher constants, quantities and properties, for experiences. It is if the quantity [which is the equivalent, version or representation of senses] goes to destination for the property of high, that gives the experience of high.

This exceeds reward, pleasure or dopamine explanations. Properties in the brain include cravings, fear, pain, hurt, interest, like, compulsion, desire, hate, anger, sleep, hunger, thirst, calm, cool, aggression and so forth.

Properties have degrees, determining how much they go at any moment. It is when a substance or sense of anything becomes a quantity to the brain and travels to acquire properties that reveals experiences. There are cellular and molecular influences, but they don’t decide for experiences against properties as the overall, even for tolerance.

Consciousness, in any state, is the degree of properties acquired by quantities, including for coma, general anesthesia, sleep, overdose and so forth. The key constants are quantities and properties, expressing existential experiences per moment.

Understanding the brain as a properties organ would be useful to display to people with substance use disorder, those who have returned to use and those in recovery of how the brain determines experiences, with ways to measure and vary its reach and counter its stretch.

Photo: iStock

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