Alcohol Dependence, Withdrawal, and Relapse PMC

Addiction is a brain disorder involving compulsive substance use despite negative outcomes. It’s a complex condition with both psychological and physical elements that are hard to separate. Overstreet DH, Knapp DJ, Breese GR. Modulation of multiple ethanol withdrawal-induced anxiety-like behavior by CRF and CRF1 receptors. Brown G, Jackson A, Stephens DN. Effects of repeated withdrawal from chronic ethanol on oral self-administration of ethanol on a progressive ratio schedule. Becker HC, Lopez MF. Increased ethanol drinking after repeated chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal experience in C57BL/6 mice. Intense cravings are universal to all addiction and are based on altered brain chemistry.

While psychological and physical dependence can overlap with addiction , they can also occur on their own. An example is an individual taking prescription opioids exactly as directed by their physician. Over time, this person may develop a tolerance to the drug and if they were to stop using the drug abruptly, they would experience physical withdrawal symptoms. However, if the person is not engaging in compulsive and reckless drug-seeking behaviors, such as taking more medication than directed or partaking in illegal activities to obtain more opioids, they would not be classified as having an addiction. Psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol is the emotional, motivational, and mental addictive qualities that come with substance abuse. Also known as a psychological addiction, psychological dependence has been linked to marijuana addiction, hallucinogen addiction, and other drug addictions that don’t have a strong physical dependency component to them. Even opiate addiction, alcohol addiction, and meth addiction, which are physically addictive, have a psychological element that perpetuates a substance use disorder. Given that alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease, many alcohol-dependent people invariably experience multiple bouts of heavy drinking interspersed with periods of abstinence (i.e., withdrawal) of varying duration. For example, clinical studies have indicated that a history of multiple detoxifications increases a person’s susceptibility to more severe and medically complicated withdrawals in the future (e.g., Booth and Blow 1993).


In cooperation with RECO Intensive, we can guide your journey from the first step toward sobriety to a strong and supportive sober lifestyle for the future. Reach out to us today to find out more about sober living in Delray Beach, Florida. Addiction may not be “cured,” but it is effectively managed with an individualized treatment program. Restoring control, confidence, and self-worth start by taking meaningful action toward those goals. Consuming more alcohol further suppresses brain chemicals and activity, resulting in temporary relief but, ultimately, causes more discomfort when the brain tries to return to a normal state. When consumed, alcohol is metabolized by a liver enzyme and eliminated through the urine. When there is too much to be metabolized, it is absorbed by other parts of the body, including the brain. When sobriety is achieved and maintained, the chemical balance in the body and brain will return to normal, and the individual’s true personality and vitality will be recovered. Faced with a powerful physical and mental withdrawal whenever they try to limit their use, individuals may need professional medical help in a safe environment to recover from their addiction.

Who is considered to be an alcoholic?

For men, consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week.

288 Macenski MJ, Shelton KL. Self-administered ethanol as a discriminative stimulus in rats. 286 Luscher C, Ungless MA. The mechanistic classification of addictive drugs. 255 Krystal JH, Petrakis IL, Webb E, Cooney NL, Karper LP, Namanworth S, Stetson P, Trevisan LA, Charney DS. Dose-related ethanol-like effects of the NMDA antagonist, ketamine, in recently detoxified alcoholics. 254 Kruse SW, Zhao R, Smith DP, Jones DN. Structure of a specific alcohol-binding site defined by the odorant binding protein LUSH from Drosophila melanogaster. 238 Kessler RC, McGonagle KA, Zhao S, Nelson CB, Hughes M, Eshleman S, Wittchen HU, Kendler KS. Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States. 211 Hyytiä P, Kiianmaa K. Suppression of ethanol responding by centrally administered CTOP and naltrindole in AA and Wistar rats. 192 Hodge CW, Mehmert KK, Kelley SP, McMahon T, Haywood A, Olive MF, Wang D, Sanchez-Perez AM, Messing RO. Supersensitivity to allosteric GABA receptor modulators and alcohol in mice lacking PKCepsilon. 179 Hasler G, van der Veen JW, Tumonis T, Meyers N, Shen J, Drevets WC. Reduced prefrontal glutamate/glutamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in major depression determined using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. 157 Gessa GL, Muntoni F, Collu M, Vargiu L, Mereu G. Low doses of ethanol activate dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area. 151 Gebicke-Haerter PJ, Sommer WH. DNA microarrays and expression profiling in drug abuse research.

Drug Use

It can cause cravings, motivation to seek out the substance or behavior, irritability, anxiety, or general dissatisfaction when withdrawing from the substance or activity. In some cancer patients drug-seeking behaviour is seen because of unrelieved pain and not psychological dependence. This can be the result of prn prescription of opioids rather than regular administration of adequate analgesia. This behaviour usually responds to escalation of the opioid dose, resulting in adequate analgesia. Improved assessment and rational pain management should help to eliminate this problem.
physiological dependence on alcohol
Talking about substance use disorder can be tricky, and not just because it’s a sensitive topic. There are a lot of terms involved that, while related, mean different things. Blunted stress cortisol response in abstinent alcoholic and polysubstance-abusing men. The role of corticotropin-releasing factor in the median raphe nucleus in relapse to alcohol. Heyser CJ, Schulteis G, Koob GF. Increased ethanol self-administration after a period of imposed ethanol deprivation in rats trained in a limited access paradigm. Alcohol self-administration in two rat lines selectively bred for extremes in anxiety-related behavior.

C. A Perspective of Systems-Oriented Alcohol Research

However, with this criticism in mind, many clinicians successfully use the DSM as a blueprint to identify patterns in symptoms while they consider medical history, rule out possibilities, and then come to an accurate diagnosis. 544 Yücel M, Lubman DI, Harrison BJ, Fornito A, Allen NB, Wellard RM, Roffel K, Clarke K, Wood SJ, Forman SD, Pantelis C. A combined spectroscopic and functional MRI investigation of the dorsal anterior cingulate region in opiate addiction. 542 Yoder JA, Yen RW, Vertino PM, Bestor TH, Baylin SB. New 5’ regions of the murine and human genes for DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase. 537 Yamaguchi T, Sheen W, Morales M. Glutamatergic neurons are present in the rat ventral tegmental area. 536 Wright JM, physiological dependence on alcohol Peoples RW, Weight FF. Single-channel and whole-cell analysis of ethanol inhibition of NMDA-activated currents in cultured mouse cortical and hippocampal neurons. 490 Thiele TE, Marsh DJ, Ste Marie L, Bernstein IL, Palmiter RD. Ethanol consumption and resistance are inversely related to neuropeptide Y levels. 486 Terenius L. Stereospecific interaction between narcotic analgesics and a synaptic plasma membrane fraction of rat cerebral cortex. 477 Stuber GD, Hopf FW, Hahn J, Cho SL, Guillory A, Bonci A. Voluntary ethanol intake enhances excitatory synaptic strength in the ventral tegmental area. 447 Simon EJ, Hiller JM, Edelmann I. Stereospecific binding of the potent narcotic analgesic -Etorphine to rat homogenate.
Dhaher R, Finn D, Snelling C, Hitzemann R. Lesions of the extended amygdala in C57BL/6J mice do not block the intermittent ethanol vapor-induced increase in ethanol consumption. Dependence-induced increases in ethanol self-administration in mice are blocked by the CRF1 receptor antagonist antalarmin and by CRF1 receptor knockout. Becker HC, Baros AM. Effect of duration and pattern of chronic ethanol exposure on tolerance to the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol in C57BL/6J mice. No matter whether you’re dealing with a moderate or strong addiction, there’s hope. Work with a set of addiction treatment experts who can help you with your substance use disorder. In addition to your body adapting to the chemicals, your psyche has done so, too. You need to work on overcoming the psychological aspect of the condition next. People who have psychological drug dependence will have a change in behavior when they withdraw from the substance. They will look for ways to get the drug despite the consequences of the negative impact.
Eco Sober House
Despite the enormous negative health and socioeconomic impact of alcohol use and abuse on the world population, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption also has several beneficial human health effects. These include reduced risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer . A substantial proportion of the benefit of moderate drinking is due to the pure ethanol component of alcoholic beverages; however, differences in the beneficial effects of various alcoholic beverages may occur . In particular, red wine contains a high number of polyphenols, such as resveratrol that can increase the function of the endogenous antioxidant system .

How Can You Treat Psychological Dependence?

A further imaging technique, phMRI, offers considerable potential for the development of new treatments. In this context, it is possible to study not only brain activation patterns triggered by alcohol-related cues or alcohol itself, but also the way in which they are modulated by anticraving drugs. A striking Sober Home example of this elegant approach has recently been provided by Heilig and co-workers at the NIAAA. They showed that BOLD responses elicited by alcohol-related cues were reduced by a novel neurokinin 1 receptor antagonist , a finding that indicates the efficacy of this drug as an anti-craving medication.

  • It has recently been shown that haplotype-driven NPY expression predicts brain responses to emotional and stress challenges.
  • The dorsal raphe nucleus 5-HT system modulates the DAergic activity of the VTA and the NAC .
  • Negative symptoms occur when the euphoria feeling begins to fade away as dopamine levels decrease.
  • In summary, the last decade has witnessed advances in the field of alcohol research with the development of new animal models mimicking core features of an addictive behavior.
  • This erroneous belief is pertinent to the disease model of addiction in that it purports that “addiction is not a choice” because people with substance use disorders do make decisions regarding their substance abuse.

The latter result implies that tolerance develops to the DA releasing effect of ethanol in voluntarily drinking AA rats. This suggestion is further supported by yet another experiment in which DA release in the NAC was measured before and during alcohol drinking in AA rats. Self-administration of the ethanol solution had only a minor effect on DA levels during the first 10 min after the onset of drinking . Giving the rats a cue for ethanol, which was part of their daily, routine drinking regime, did not raise DA levels before ethanol was presented to the rats (i.e., during “anticipation”) . Together, this consistent set of findings shows that mesolimbic DA is not the central substrate that produces the reinforcement from ethanol in AA rats. There also seems to be an interesting link between the acetylcholine/DA interaction and neuropeptides involved in feeding behavior such as ghrelin. Centrally administered ghrelin has DA-stimulating properties which appear to be mediated via central nAch receptors, suggesting that ghrelin activates cholinergic input into DA neurons. There is cholinergic input from the laterodorsal tegmental area to the VTA, and growth hormone secretagogue receptors (GHSR-1A), the functional ghrelin receptor, are expressed in both areas . Although a direct link between ethanol, ghrelin, and DA has not yet been investigated, it is known that ghrelin regulates not only energy balance and feeding behavior but is also likely to be directly involved in drug and alcohol reinforcement .

B. Translational Approach in Medication Development and New Clinical Trials

NO is one of the few known gaseous signaling molecules and can act as a retrograde messenger. Activation of guanylyl cyclase and the resulting elevation of cGMP is a major downstream signal of NO in neurons. In many cells, the target of cGMP is the cGMP-dependent protein kinase I or II, abbreviated as cGKI and cGKII, respectively . In brain, NO, cGMP, and cGKII are closely related because both enzymes, neuronal NO synthase and cGKII, are frequently coexpressed, either directly or indirectly with cGKII-expressing neurons, which receive afferents from nNOS-containing neurons . If you or someone you know identifies with the symptoms of physical and psychological dependence, you might need addiction treatment. Our staff at Comprehensive Wellness Centers is here to help you every step of the way.

Which of the following may cause psychological dependence?

Psychological dependence is caused by consistent and frequent exposure to a drug or behavioural activity. It is often associated with effects of drug use, but it can also be caused by behavioural activity e.g. pornography.

86 Cippitelli A, Bilbao A, Hansson AC, del Arco I, Sommer W, Heilig M, Massi M, Bermudez-Silva FJ, Navarro M, Ciccocioppo R, de Fonseca FR. The European TARGALC Consortium. Cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonism reduces conditioned reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behavior in rats. 84 Ciccocioppo R, Economidou D, Fedeli A, Angeletti S, Weiss F, Heilig M, Massi M. Attenuation of ethanol self-administration and of conditioned reinstatement of alcohol-seeking behaviour by the antiopioid peptide nociceptin/orphanin FQ in alcohol-preferring rats. 26 Barr CS, Schwandt M, Lindell SG, Chen SA, Goldman D, Suomi SJ, Higley JD, Heilig M. Association of a functional polymorphism in the mu-opioid receptor gene with alcohol response and consumption in male rhesus macaques. 19 Bäckstrom P, Hyytiä P. Ionotropic glutamate receptor modulate cue-induced reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behavior. 17 Bachteler D, Economidou D, Danysz W, Ciccocioppo R, Spanagel R. The effects of acamprosate and neramexane on cue-induced reinstatement of ethanol-seeking behavior in rat. 12In the large-scale study COMBINE , over 1,300 patients were treated with either naltrexone or placebo. While half the patients received a low-dose standard supportive therapy , the other half received a more intensive psychotherapy, i.e., cognitive-behavioral intervention .

215 Jaffe JH, Babor TF, Fischbein TH. Alcoholics, aggression and antisocial personality. 206 Hughes J, Smith TW, Kosterlitz HW, Fothergill LA, Morgan BA, Morris HR. Identification of two related pentapeptides from the brain with potent opiate agonist activity. 204 Howell LL, Wilcox KM. Functional imaging and neurochemical correlates of stimulant self-administration in primates. 195 Hölter SM, Danysz W, Spanagel R. Evidence for alcohol anti-craving properties of memantine.

The combining of imaging genetics and imaging pharmacology (pharmacological MRI; phMRI) promises to open up new avenues of research in the study of gene × environment interactions in specific neuronal networks . The list of putative CREB target genes with CRE sequences now exceeds 100 and includes genes that control neurotransmission, cell structure, signal transduction, transcription, and metabolism . Given that several acute and chronic effects of ethanol are mediated by CREB, it can be assumed that CREB target genes are involved in mediating behavioral responses to ethanol. However, there are also many CREB-independent genes that may respond to alcohol, and the question is how can novel alcohol-responsive target genes and their products be identified in a hypothesis-free approach? Using the new -omics technologies, molecular expression profiles can be assembled and quantified on the mRNA, protein, and metabolite levels. In particular, there have been great advances in transcriptomics where expression levels of mRNAs in a given brain area or cell population are studied by one of the many gene expression profiling approaches . In particular, DNA microarrays are more and more applied as high-throughput technologies in alcohol research .

Physical dependence is synonymous with the body’s tolerance to alcohol or a specific drug. This means, over time, the body will require more of said drug in order to achieve the same desired effects. Being physically dependent on a drug also means a person will typically experience physical withdrawal symptoms if they reduce dosage significantly or stop taking the drug all together. Some physical withdrawal symptoms are more mild, such as nausea and vomiting, while others, like seizures or irregular heartbeat, can be life-threatening. When discussing substance physiological dependence on alcohol abuse and addiction there is a lot of lingo that gets thrown around. Many terms are used interchangeably but they are not always used in the correct context. If you’re concerned that a friend or family member has a problem with drugs or alcohol, it’s important to know the difference between physical and psychological dependence and how both of these factors can play into addiction. Many substances can cause physical dependence, psychological dependence, or both. However, for many people, a combination of both physical and psychological dependence is common.
physiological dependence on alcohol
Thus, as previously mentioned, a clear modulatory role of glutamatergic input on DAergic A10 neuronal activity has so far not been established. GABAA receptors also play an important role in alcohol reinforcement, being both a primary target for alcohol and a direct neurochemical access point into the mesolimbic DAergic system. For instance, pharmacological manipulations of GABAA receptors with negative allosteric modulators were shown to reduce alcohol consumption in several alcohol-preferring rat lines . Also, knockout mice lacking various GABAA receptor subunits were examined in several alcohol-related paradigms, and it was shown that α1, α2, α5, and δ subunit deletion leads to reduced alcohol consumption .

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