April 28, 2014

Cravings and Addictions: Beyond Willpower.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

by Steven Crain, Ph.D.

Most of us have struggled with cravings that have interfered with our lives – from drugs and alcohol to food and sex. At times, these cravings are simply annoying distractions; at other times, they can become addictions, which can ultimately wreck havoc in our lives.

Regardless of how serious our cravings and addictions, we most often perceive ourselves, and are typically seen by others, as simply lacking sufficient willpower or even morally corrupt. Whether it is alcohol and tobacco, Vicodan and Valium, sweets and snacks, or even gambling and gaming, this pejorative judgment can be more destructive than the direct impact of these behaviors on our lives.

Find out more about Deepak Chopra Endorphinate®: http://ponderapharma.com

The truth being revealed by modern neuroscience is that cravings and addictions are produced by brain dysfunctions, not moral weakness. Exciting innovations in neuroimaging, such as fMRI studies that literally show the maladaptive reward circuits in the brain that strongly activate when people simply anticipate substances or behaviors, demonstrate the brain dysfunctions underlying cravings and addictions. On a more microscopic level, electrophysiological nerve tissue culture studies have uncovered the dysfunctional changes in neurotransmitters and receptors that underlie the development of tolerance and dependence to addictive drugs.

Compelling evidence indicates that imbalances in the reward and stress related neurotransmitters, dopamine and endorphins, are responsible for most of our cravings and addictions. A variety of factors are responsible for these neurochemical imbalances including genetics, chronic stress, drugs and alcohol, as well as excessive consumption of certain foods, including sugar, gluten, and other processed foods and chemicals. As a result of these neurochemical imbalances, we crave substances and are driven to behaviors that trigger the release of these pleasure-producing neurotransmitters in our brains, often despite our best intentions to avoid these compulsions.

As a result of mounting scientific evidence, the world’s leading addiction experts, including Dr. Nora Volkow, the neuroscientist at the head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), have proclaimed that all addictions are the result of neurochemical imbalances in the reward and stress centers of the brain. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Dr. Volkow at her office six years ago as part of a gathering of addiction experts. Dr. Volkow had invited my father, Dr. Stanley Crain, Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to present his groundbreaking discoveries regarding a novel method to reduce the tolerance and dependence produced by opiate drugs, from heroin to Oxycontin. Everyone at this meeting was in agreement with Dr. Volkow that addiction is a brain disease, not only as related to drug and alcohol, but to food, sex, and many other compulsive behaviors. Clearly, the world’s leading experts were (and are) in search of innovative methods to restore healthy functioning to the brain’s reward and stress circuits.

No wonder millions are frustrated in their efforts to overcome their cravings and addictions by sheer effort. We are struggling upstream, against neural wiring, to let go of our cravings and addictions to temptations from sugar and gluten, tobacco and alcohol, pain and anti-anxiety drugs, sex and gambling. So many people end up feeling ashamed and weak with insufficient willpower and are seen by others as lacking character and morally weak. How many people, helpless to overcome their neural wiring, are convicted of crimes, which stem directly from their addictions, and thrown into prison, rather than treated with compassion and treatment for their brain dysfunction. We need to dramatically reverse this condemnation and have compassion for anyone struggling with cravings and addictions. Moreover, we need to find real solutions that resolve and restore balance to the underlying dysfunctional reward and stress circuits of the brain.

Fortunately, recent neuroscience research has demonstrated the remarkable neuroplasticity of the human nervous system and our ability to rewire our brain as we actively engage in new beliefs, values, and activities, from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to 12-step programs, meditation, and other healthy lifestyle choices. For certain people, these interventions are effective at reducing and/or eliminating their cravings and addictions. Nevertheless, there is clear evidence that even these healthy psychological interventions are often insufficient to restore natural balance to the stress and reward centers of the brain, which can be “locked” into dysfunctional imbalances that trigger cravings and addictions.

With the increased recognition of addiction as a brain disease, the medical community is rapidly attempting to develop pharmaceutical treatments. However, the primary focus of these drug programs has been on opiate addiction, which typically rely on providing more opiate drugs, such as methadone and Suboxone, thereby perpetuating brain dysfunction rather than restoring healthy balance to the stress and reward circuits. Slowly attention is being given to non-opiate treatments as well as interventions for other drug, alcohol, food, and behavioral cravings and addictions. Unfortunately, these pharmaceutical treatments take years to become available, and often have noxious side effects.

Based on a collaboration that was fueled in Dr. Volkow’s office, a team of neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and psychologists joined together to develop a new generation of formulations. Rather than perpetuate brain dysfunction, this innovative treatment focuses on restoring healthy functioning to the stress and reward systems of the brain, based upon my father’s groundbreaking scientific discoveries about endorphins and Dr. Volkow’s insights into the critical importance of dopamine in addictions. These novel formulations were scientifically developed to restore healthy balance in the stress and reward circuits of the brain by enhancing the release of neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and dopamine, while insuring that they trigger reward rather than distress signals that produce cravings and addictions.

Clinical studies, recently published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science3, have shown that nutraceutical formulations, based on these scientific discoveries, reduce a wide variety of cravings, including various drugs, alcohol, food, and other behavioral addictions and compulsions. In addition, these nutraceuticals were found to relieve emotional and physical distress more generally, including chronic anxiety as well as certain aches and pains. They also enhanced well-being, energy, mental clarity, as well as pleasure. What is remarkable is that these scientifically formulated nutraceuticals combined ancient healing herbs with amino acids and vitamins, all of which are natural health-promoting ingredients.

Therefore, when simple abstinence from undesirable substances and behaviors, psychological treatment, and other healthy life style choices are insufficient to reduce cravings and addictions, this new generation of nutraceuticals might be considered to restore balanced brain functioning. Once the stress and reward brain centers are balanced, healthy choices become much easier without cravings based on underlying dysfunctional neural circuits.

Nutraceutical preparations, based on these scientific discoveries and clinical studies, such as Deepak Chopra Endorphinate®, are now available online.

Write Your Comment

  1. Ash C.

    I like to believe that someone as knowledgable as Deepak would be looking out for me and others as a whole. He is looking at a broader picture than most of us. I trust his new discoveries are worthwhile, and I understand they will work for some and not for others. I was willing and did not have good success with the endorphinate, but would try other things to help. I don`t feel one product is for everyone, eventually we all find our answers. Search for what is the truth for your own well being, let it be your guide, then you will find what you truly need.

  2. Albert Cornelissen

    Sex too? isn't that an expression of love?

  3. When There Are No Answers

More Comments
How AI Can Elevate Spiritual Intelligence and Personal Well-Being
September 17, 2024
Scroll Up