Substance Abuse Tied to Stimulation in the Brain
Employing more than 150 adolescent test subjects, the researchers measured the neural response of the individuals as well as their body fat percentages. The same test subjects were put through the same routine a year later. They exposed the subjects to a monetary reward, which triggers a neural response. What they found was that the more a person uses a psychoactive substance, their response to monetary reward decreases.
The study suggests that the subjects that are entwined in an addiction are less likely to derive a reward response from other parts of life, such as hobbies, relationships, school or social activities. Health professionals say this research is important because it is the first time atypical responsitivity of reward circuitry in the brain has been studied in such a way. The youths with a history of substance abuse did not show striatal responses to monetary rewards.
Around 35 percent of alcoholics and drug users have some type of eating disorder. The more that is known about how the brain reacts to these substances can lead to a better understanding of how to treat these individuals.