Addiction is a serious problem for a major chunk of the population. Around 21 million people in the U.S. are struggling with at least one addiction, while just 10% of them receive treatment. In 2018, over 20 million people had a substance use disorder.

But did you know that some medical conditions are often associated with addiction? Conditions like Parkinson’s disease are closely related to addiction. Although it may come as a shock to many, there is enough research to back it up.

This is a detailed guideline on the link between addiction and Parkinson’s syndrome people should know about.

Addiction and Parkinson’s Syndrome

Over 10 million people across the globe are living with Parkinson’s, while around 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition every year, published the Parkinson’s Foundation.

This is a complex neurodegenerative disorder that causes a loss of certain brain cells responsible for producing dopamine. When these neurons start to degenerate, it affects the signal transmission to the brain.

As a result, people lose control of their muscles, experience stiffness, tremors, and trouble walking, but there’s more to Parkinson’s than the physical symptoms. The disease can cause trouble with non-motor functions as well.

That includes cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, and psychosis. These are all major sources of disability. Recently, however, one study found that patients with Parkinson’s can also be vulnerable to addiction.

They can become addicted to their own medicine and develop a behavioral addiction like compulsive shopping, pathological gambling, or hypersexuality, explained by Dr. Alain Dagher, an expert neurologist at McGill University.

How Does Parkinson’s Affect Addiction?

Stonegate Center Blog - Parkinson's Disease Can Tell Us About Addiction - How Does Parkinsons Affect Addiction Infographics

Addiction can alter the critical areas of the brain responsible for decision-making, memory, learning, and behavior control. For people to be able to manage or control these issues, they will need to understand the underlying biological mechanism that goes with it.

Scientists decided to study Parkinson’s and addiction because researching one disease to learn about the other is an important strategy. Even though they seem completely different, both these disorders affect the dopamine levels and the central nervous system.

The dopamine neurotransmitter is the central piece that links these two disorders together. When dopamine levels are within the normal range, the brain can properly control movement, experience pain, pleasure, rewards, and create an emotional response.

However, patients with Parkinson’s syndrome don’t have enough dopamine in their system. So, they have to receive medications that would mimic dopamine functions. As a result, they can be vulnerable to addiction.

Here is Why.

Based on the research, volunteers with Parkinson’s who received dopamine medications (agonists) had a relatively high risk of pathological gambling at around 8%, compared to the 1% found among the general population.

Patients who do develop an addiction have just started with their dopamine therapy and abruptly interrupted their treatment. Experts believe that adjusting the dosage and combining the medicines helped the volunteers overcome addiction.

This phenomenon caused by dopamine medicines could indicate that patients with this disease are indeed more vulnerable to addiction than the general population. Of course, not everyone is the same.

Experts estimate the addiction is also the result of a hereditary gene. Plenty of genes can make people vulnerable to addiction, especially if they affect dopamine levels.

What most people don’t realize is that dopamine acts as a section of the brain responsible for getting all the necessary input. So, it’s normal that any fluctuations in dopamine could promote addictive behaviors.

That’s why it’s critical that people understand how the brain works and the ways to avoid any possible triggers that may lead to addiction.

If you or a loved one is suffering from this type of health problem, an inpatient addiction treatment center in Dallas-Fort Worth like Stonegate Center can definitely help. With constant medical support, you can get your life back on track.

Based on the research, volunteers with Parkinson’s who received dopamine medications (agonists) had a relatively high risk of pathological gambling at around 8%, compared to the 1% found among the general population.

Patients who do develop an addiction have just started with their dopamine therapy and abruptly interrupted their treatment. Experts believe that adjusting the dosage and combining the medicines helped the volunteers overcome addiction.

This phenomenon caused by dopamine medicines could indicate that patients with this disease are indeed more vulnerable to addiction than the general population. Of course, not everyone is the same.

Experts estimate the addiction is also the result of a hereditary gene. Plenty of genes can make people vulnerable to addiction, especially if they affect dopamine levels.

What most people don’t realize is that dopamine acts as a section of the brain responsible for getting all the necessary input. So, it’s normal that any fluctuations in dopamine could promote addictive behaviors.

That’s why it’s critical that people understand how the brain works and the ways to avoid any possible triggers that may lead to addiction.

If you or a loved one is suffering from this type of health problem, an inpatient addiction treatment center in Dallas-Fort Worth like Stonegate Center can definitely help. With constant medical support, you can get your life back on track.

What Makes People Vulnerable to Addiction?

Stonegate Center Blog - Parkinson's Disease Can Tell Us About Addiction - What Makes People Vulnerable to Addiction Infographics

According to different research, the cognitive changes and dopamine fluctuations make patients more impulsive. They have a tendency to act recklessly and in the spur of the moment.

Researchers analyzed 57 individuals with Parkinson’s before getting surgery for brain stimulation. They analyzed their impulsivity in two different ways by using neuropsychiatric instruments and behavioral reading.

With the help of fine-tuned instruments, scientists could assess the compulsivity, impatience, and impulsivity in patients. While with the reading, they could get a clear insight into their risk-taking behavior. They then compared the patient’s behavior in a virtual casino to test the link between stopping and choosing networks.

Multiple reports showed that the bigger the reward, the more impulsive people get. In other words, the stronger the choosing network, the weaker the stopping network.

As a result, patients displayed a tendency for reckless behavior, huge bets, and having the urge to play the slot machines. Also, individuals who already had problems with their impulse control behavior were more susceptible to addiction.

By the end of the trial, 17 out of 57 volunteers developed addictive behavior.

Based on the screening, the dopaminergic meds had nothing to do with recklessness. This could mean that the degeneration of the neurological system in individuals with Parkinson’s may differ depending on the way the brain works. Some people are prone to addiction, while others have a much easier time controlling their destructive behavior.

Another study also supported the same results. Based on their reports, patients who need dopamine therapy or have impulse control disorders are vulnerable to addictive behavior. They are susceptible to binge eating, compulsive eating, or anything else that has a repetitive nature.

But the problem is that not many people fully understand the pathophysiology that comes with Parkinson’s disease. This health issue can have a debilitating psychosocial impairment that many patients are unable to recognize.

That’s why it’s critical to study these behaviors and receive on-time treatment. For those struggling with obsessive thoughts or extreme behavioral changes after they’ve stopped taking drugs or alcohol, it is time for a proper detox. Consider attending a 24/7 medical detox facility in Texas to help manage your withdrawal symptoms safely.

How to Recognize Addiction

Constant substance abuse can have serious reproductions on a person’s mental, physical, and overall health. The important thing is that you recognize the symptoms and look for on-time treatment.

It’s easy to spot the symptoms, but unless you know what you are looking for, you will have a hard time pointing them out. Remember, recognizing the signs of addiction is the first step to getting proper treatment.

When a person stops taking drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or any other addictive substance, they will start experiencing sudden physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of addiction. Here is a list of some of the most typical signs people can experience.

Stonegate Center Blog - Parkinson's Disease Can Tell Us About Addiction - Addiction Symptoms Infographics

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Do you recognize the symptoms? Then it’s time to get treatment. If you are looking for the ideal treatment facility, an inpatient addiction treatment center in Dallas-Fort Worth is exactly what you need. Give us a call at (817) 993-9733 for a free assessment.

In this controlled environment, you will be able to overcome all those symptoms and get ready for a proper detox. The sooner you get treatment, the quicker the results.

What About Treatment for Parkinson’s?

Stonegate Center Blog - Parkinson's Disease Can Tell Us About Addiction - Treatment for Parkisions Infographics

After a person has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, they will need to receive proper medications.

Over 81% of patients are treated with anti-Parkinson drugs. Most of them, or 90%, receive levodopa, while 29% to 31% receive dopamine antagonists. The rest 5% to 11% rely on various inhibitors, published the National Institutes of Health.

But, to avoid addiction, patients may need a more different type of care. Especially those at higher risk of developing an addiction. Even though there aren’t any particular therapeutic treatments that can help, some approaches may be worth the effort, like:

  • Dopamine replacement therapy reduction (DRT)
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Non-dopaminergic medications

The goal is to stabilize one’s dopamine levels and find a way to control impulsive behavior. By avoiding dopamine agonists and focusing on chronic subthalamic stimulation, patients may reduce their risk of becoming vulnerable to addiction.

The reason for that is relatively simple. The link between addictive behaviors and dopamine is very clear. Dopamine helps facilitate numerous body movements. It also contributes to feelings of pleasure, memory, and learning. These are all key elements in the shift between liking something and getting addicted to it.

However, researchers still don’t know for sure what is making some people develop these addictive behaviors a while after taking dopaminergic medicine, and others don’t. There is probably a limit to what the body can achieve.

Since every system is completely different, it makes sense that not all medications will affect people the same way. That’s why there has been a constant debate over the best possible treatments.

Scientists believe the main reason behind the different treatment approaches is the brain structure. It can vary from person to person. As a result, some people can develop addictive behavior after taking dopaminergic medicine, while others won’t.

The fact is, Parkinson’s will affect the structure of the brain. However, the impact varies from one patient to the other. If researchers were to capture this variability, they could solve the connection to addiction and impulsivity.

With the help of brain imaging, doctors can visualize the structure of connections in the brain. This is used to observe the impact of the disease on the central nervous system.

To make sure that you successfully overcome your addiction, you need a safe and controlled environment. That’s where a residential drug rehab center for women like Stonegate Center Hilltop can be the right pick. It is a practical solution for beating those destructive habits.

Final Thoughts

As scientists start to understand the commonalities in the brain structure in individuals with dopaminergic treatments who are prone to addiction, it is easy to see how important this research is for Parkinson’s disease. By sharing this information, patients with the condition can make the most of their preferred choice of treatment.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict whether your body will be vulnerable to addiction. But, with the right precautions, anyone can get their health back on track. Meanwhile, people with Parkinson’s should keep taking the prescribed medication and try to detect any abnormalities of addictive behavior. If you are careful, you will immediately recognize the signs of addiction.

References

https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf

https://www.parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Statistics

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090225132341.htm

https://academic.oup.com/brain/article-abstract/142/12/3917/5607079?redirectedFrom=fulltext

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0035378712008788

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22921247/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174430/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17620886/

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Stonegate CenterStonegate Center is a private faith-based and gender-separate rehab center located in Azle, Texas. We offer long-term residential addiction treatment for men and women struggling with drug & alcohol addiction. Our rehab center serves the communities of Forth Worth, Dallas, and as far as Oklahoma & New Mexico.

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