Addiction

Definition

Addiction is a primary chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related activity. Addiction affects neurotransmission and interactions within reward structures of the brain, including the nucleus accumbens, anterior cingulate cortex, basal forebrain and amygdala, such that motivational hierarchies are altered and addictive behaviours, which may or may not include alcohol and other drug use, supplant healthy, self-care related behaviours. Addiction also affects neurotransmission and interaction between cortical and hippocampal circuits and brain reward structures, such that the memory of previous exposures to rewards (such as food, sex, alcohol, and other drugs) leads to a biological and behavioral response to external cues, in turn triggering craving and/or engagement in addictive behaviors.

Causes:

  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental factors interact with the person’s biology and thus affect the extent to which genetic factors exert their influence.
  • Culture
  • Cognitive and affective distortions, which impair perceptions and compromise the ability to deal with feelings, resulting in significant self- deception.
  • Disruption of healthy social supports and problems in interpersonal relationships which impact the development or impact resiliences.
  • The presence of an underlying biological deficit in the function of reward circuits, such that drugs and behaviours which enhance reward function are preferred and sought as reinforcers.
  • Repeated engagement in the use of drug or engagement in addictive behaviours.

Addiction is characterised by:

  • Inability to consistently abstain
  • Dysfunctional emotional response
  • Diminished recognition of significant problems with an individual’s behaviour
  • Impairment in behavioural control
  • Craving, or increased hunger for drugs or rewarding experiences.

Ayurvedic Treatment for Addiction:

Ayurveda allows us to understand the importance of balance in body, mind and soul. An ayurvedic approach to addiction looks at the mental, physical, as well as the spiritual, and seeks to encourage a long lasting state of balance to the body, mind and soul that will help reduce the tendency to relapse.

According to Ayurveda, addiction is considered under the topic of Madatyaya, meaning intoxication. madatyaya is the state or symptoms that arise due to continuous use or a high dose of substances that are intoxicating. In Ayurveda, Madya is the opposite of ojas (source of energy), which is a pre-requisite for good health and wellness. Madya diminishes ojas in the body, and when a person reaches that stage, he/she experiences the symptoms of madatyaya.

Doshas and Addictions:

The intake of drugs can lead to the aggravation of one or more doshas, which are Vata, pitta and Kapha. Symptoms are experienced based on the type of dosha that is aggravated.

Symptoms of Vata type

  • Headache
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Erratic moods

Symptoms of Pitta type

  • Burning in the stomach and digestive problems
  • Excessive sweating
  • Thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Giddiness and violence

Symptoms of Kapha type

  • Excessive sleep
  • Lethargy
  • Heaviness in the body
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In Ayurveda, considers three basic types of energy, which include Vata, pitta and Kapha. Vata is the energy of movement, pitta is the energy of metabolism and digestion, while Kapha is the energy of structure and lubrication. The cause of any disease is often associated with a lack of proper cellular function due to deficiency or excess of pitta.

Line of treatment:

Ayurvedic Treatment for Addiction includes Counselling and rooting the cause of addition, counselling for de-addiction, Balancing the aggravated dosha at the body-mind level, improving metabolism, strengthening the immune system, detoxification, rejuvenation.

Treatments – The treatment modalities includes panchakarma, external therapies, internal medications, Activities, Advice of food and lifestyle changes.

  • Panchakarma – Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya,
  • Externally – Sirodhara, Abhyanga, Shiro Basti, Shiro Pichu, Pada Abhyanga
  • Internally –  Medhya Rasayanas – Herbs to strengthen the mind, improve concentration and its functional ability.

Activities:

  • Specific Asanas, Panayamas, meditation, kriyas, deep relaxation techniques
  • Food: specific to the individual’s constitution, nature of work and geographical conditions. – Satwick food
  • Lifestyle changes:  specific to the individual’s addiction, constitution, nature of work and geographical conditions.work and geographical conditions.