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  • Writer's pictureAvery Quinn-Packard

The Brains Chemicals



Human suffering is ubiquitous. It occurs across cultures and continents and no one is immune from suffering, in one form or another. In a sense, suffering is the one absolute thing all humans have in common. Some theories on human behavior suggest our brains are hardwired for pleasure seeking and pain avoidance. Certain chemicals in our brain, or neurotransmitters, have even been identified as important in pain avoidance or pleasure-seeking behaviors. GABA, for example, appears to influence pleasure-seeking behavior. Glutamate, on the other hand, is known to be involved in trauma and fear response, and glutamate pathways are particularly strong. Substances, like drugs and alcohol, affect these neurotransmitters, increasing the effects of GABA while decreasing the effects glutamate. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that archaeological records indicate the presence of psychotropic drug use in the earliest civilizations. Humans have an ingrained drive to avoid negative emotions and increase positive emotions; ancient drugs may have been used to induce euphoria while repressing anxiety or depression, much as they are today. The nature of addiction is not based on free will alone, but has biological, psychological, and social roots. Traumatic experiences, particularly in childhood, are known to contribute to drug and alcohol use and repeated exposures to toxic stress reinforces use, leading to a spiraling cycle of addiction.

Do you think you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol? As yourself:

  1. Has your drug or alcohol use negatively affected your relationships with others?

  2. Have you ever used drugs or alcohol to improve or numb a negative mood?

  3. Have you ever lied to friends or family about your substance use?

  4. Do I have a history of traumatic experiences?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have or be at risk of developing a substance use disorder. Recognizing that you have a substance use disorder is the first step; getting help is the most important. When you are ready to move forward, we are here for you.


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