Week 4 - The short film below is an excerpt from a documentary about addiction called "Pleasure Unwoven" by Dr. Kevin McCauley from the Institute for Addiction Study. The documentary as a whole explores the question of, "is addiction really a disease?" and presents arguments both for and against this theory. The documentary turns complex neuroscientific concepts into easy-to-understand visual images that will help people in recovery feel better understood, and their families and friends feel hope that recovery is possible.
In this installment, Dr McCauley talks about "The Periodic Table of Intoxicants." This is a more scientific and chemical view of the substances that are often used in addiction and what chemical groups they are classified under, such as stimulants (ecstasy, cocaine), dissociates (PCP, ketamine), sedative hypnotics (alcohol, valium, GHB), opioids (heroin, codeine).
Dr McCauley goes on to explain that all these substances in the Periodic Table of Intoxicants have the ability to release dopamine in the pleasure areas of the brain, regardless of how strong or weak, legal or illegal they may be. He states that if someone has a problem with one drug, they are susceptible to have problems with other substances too.
However, it is not only chemicals that can release dopamine - behaviours can as well. For example, gambling, sex, relationships, food etc. can be just as addictive as chemical substances, and those with chemical addictions can easily become cross-addicted to other behaviours such as those just mentioned.
It is important to receive a scientifically reliable and evenly weighted education on this topic in order to override the often misconceived perceptions that the person suffering from addiction may have about themselves and their illness, particularly in early recovery.
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