Addictions in Sex, Love and Food
At Wings of Hope we specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual addiction and are licensed and certified therapists in Colorado and Texas. We offer a wide range of counseling services to our patients. We continually do research to help our patients and found the following article insightful. In this 2012 article entitled, “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Blum et.al discuss how the brain plays a prominent role in mediating the reinforcing effects of sex, food, love, and other addictions. The following are notes from this article.
Most drugs of abuse induce a preferential release of neuronal dopamine (DA) in the nucleus Accumbens. DA is released in the mesolimbic portion of the brain while one is engaged in highly pleasurable activities like having sex, doing cocaine, or eating chocolate (which contains a tetrahydroisoquinoline, which acts at opiate receptors; Blum 1988; Blum et al. 1978).
Physical exertion can release opioid peptides in what is called the “runner’s high,” and equally, it has been found that chocolate and certain spices, such as those from the chili family, can cause the release of psychoactive chemicals similar to those released during sexual acts.
Drug addiction as well as sexual addiction are pathological forms of neuroplasticity that along with the emergence of aberrant behaviors involve a cascade of neurochemical changes mainly in the brain’s reward circuitry.