Friday, February 20, 2009

Anhedonia and drug addiction

Anhedonia - the inability or failure to experience pleasure - is a common characteristic in drug addiction. One theory is that the drugs raise the brain's threshold for feeling pleasure so that, for example, a cup of tea and a couple of chocolate biscuits no longer have the same effect, and that this threshold does not return to normal even after people have given up taking drugs. A study of 52 people by researchers at the University of Melbourne compared 33 people being treated for heroin addiction with 19 healthy controls. Participants were shown pictures of pleasant stimuli and drug-related stimuli and their reactions to them were measured using a range of physiological methods. The heroin users demonstrated a reduced responsiveness to the pleasant stimuli and an increased response to the drug-related stimuli. How the drug users reacted to the stimuli was a significant predictor of heroin use at a six-month follow-up.

Lubman, Dan I. ... [et al] - Responsiveness to drug cues and natural rewards in opiate addiction Archives of General Psychiatry February 2009, 66(2), 205-213


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that information with us. Having a drug addiction is a very difficult condition to deal with. Drug addictions can be difficult to overcome and it negatively affect a persons life in so many ways including the loved ones around them.

I would also like to suggest a site with some great information about all types of addiction.

Life Works Community Blog also gives a source of information and inspiration from some of the leading counselors at Life Works. Topics include: alcohol addiction and drug addiction, eating disorders anorexia, bulimia , and compulsive overeating ), depression and anxiety disorders , and compulsive disorders ( sex addiction , love addiction , gambling addiction , and codependency ).

John Gale said...

Thanks for this. I will put a link to the Life Works blog on my site.
Best Wishes,

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dirkh said...

Nice post. In addition, there is almost always some form of accompanying problem along the depression/anxiety axis. I think the anhedonia precedes or is coincident with the addiction, rather than being caused by the addiction. Addictive drugs are one way to self-medicate chronic anhedonia--depression and addiction are so often found together.

John Gale said...

Thanks Dirk. Yes, I am sure this is one of those chicken-and-egg issues where the anhedonia leads to self-medication which then makes the original problem worse.
Best Wishes,