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Alcohol Satisfaction: Is it All in Your Head?

Although it has been a problem for years, many alcohol treatment facilities still do not have a complete understanding of alcohol addiction. New research focusing on brain science has begun to shed more light onto alcohol addiction, which can improve upon the treatment and therapies of alcoholism rehab. Clyde Hodge, a professor and researcher at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has made an important discovery about how alcohol affects the brain and the chemistry involved. Hodge’s research uses the idea that the brain focuses more on things that are pleasurable.

This pleasurable sensation encourages an individual to repeat the activity and creates a cycle of positive reinforcement. This concept of “positive reinforcement” is key in understanding addictive behaviors. Positive reinforcement is important in many essential activities of life, such as eating. However, alcohol appears to provide such a positive reaction in some brains that it causes the brain to crave alcohol or other substances. Eventually, this can lead to addiction. Consumption of alcohol activates a protein molecular memory switch in the brain, called CaMKII. When the CaMKII switch is activated, it reinforces the feeling of satisfaction that the person is experiencing. This feeling of satisfaction may help explain why some people seek out and use alcohol more frequently.

Researchers theorize that if the centers of the brain that contain this protein switch can be located, then research may be able to “turn the centers off” and control the desire for alcohol. Understanding the exact physiology of how the brain processes and interacts with alcohol is crucial to developing successful alcoholism treatments at an alcohol treatment facility. The more science discovers about the interplay of alcohol, the brain and addiction, the better and more effective the treatments for addiction will become. This is why The Ranch PA stays abreast of the research that’s revealing the science behind addiction. (Photo via)

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