For millions of Americans, the addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs is an epidemic, often, carried on from one family member to another. Destroying American lives, alcoholism and substance abuse are a leading cause of poor performance at work and in school.
If you suffer from alcoholism, in particular, the condition may be attributed to a disorder known as Reward Deficiency Syndrome. In many cases, individuals who suffer from Reward Deficiency Syndrome simply do not experience complications associated with withdrawal when the use of alcohol is reduced or eliminated.
So, what is Reward Deficiency Syndrome? A term coined to describe individuals who may be pre-disposed to a brain disorder in which there is a lack of pleasure stimulation of the pleasure pathway in the brain. In many cases, individuals who suffer from this type of brain disorder simply do not realize it is even an issue in their lives.
But, when the use of alcohol or other illegal substances commence, the pleasure pathway to the brain is enhanced, hyper stimulated and may lead to alterations in the brain structure that can not be reversed. As a result, when the individual becomes addicted to the substance, to some extent, the pleasure pathway is also stimulated.
So, what are the genetic factors that pre-dispose an individual to Reward Deficiency Syndrome? Most notably, research has indicated individuals who suffer from substance abuse or alcoholism may, in fact, present with a decreased level of neurosteroids in the brain. Because neurosteroids relax the brain function, without the proper level of neurosteroids, the individual suffering from Reward Deficiency Syndrome may never feel relaxed or fulfilled. However, when alcohol or illegal substances are introduced into their system, the relaxation effect sets in, leading to a sort of physiological dependence upon these recreational activities.
In terms of treating the Reward Deficiency Syndrome, there is little on the market today. However, research does continue. At present, many alcoholics will turn to prescription drugs, such as Naltrexone, to alleviate the pleasure of alcohol consumption through a change reaction involving violent physiological rejection of the alcohol consumption.
To make treatment more successful, medical researchers are continuing to look for ways in which to alter the process of the pleasure pathway of the brain without impacting the entire brain activity. Until such time, those who suffer from alcoholism, and other substance abuse addictions, will continue to experience a daily struggle in the fight with Reward Deficiency Syndrome.