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Sugar Addiction Essay

834 words - 4 pages

Dopaminergic Pathways’ Role in Addiction:
Sugar and Drugs of Abuse
Researchers are hesitant to claim sugar to be addictive, however, many studies have been performed showing how sugar has the ability to produce addictive symptoms similar to those of addictive drugs (1). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2004) does not define addiction, but rather, has criteria for substance dependence. The first two criteria relate to the “physiological dependence” of drugs of abuse- tolerance: a need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect, and withdrawal: the removal of the drug of choice and its subsequent feelings of ...view middle of the document...

Drugs of abuse also block the dopamine reuptake transporter, which is located on the transmitting neuron, causing increased levels of dopamine in the synaptic cleft. The increased levels of this dopamine continually stimulate the receiving neuron, thereby prolonging the feeling of pleasure. Tolerance occurs when over stimulation of dopamine to its receptors desensitizes the receiving neuron creating a change in the amount of receptors. These neurons develop tolerance to dopamine and become less responsive, thereby causing the drug user to use more of the substance to receive the same effect (7)
Studies using animal models have shown that sugar dependency develops and has similar symptoms as those of drugs of abuse. Rats have been observed for their responses to sugar and have shown signs of binging, withdrawal, and craving after intermittent exposure to sugars (4,6,8,9). The effects of sugar on the neurochemical mechanisms of the mesolimbic pathway are very similar to drugs of abuse, e.g. cocaine (4,10, 11). Sugar has been shown to increase dopamine levels in the synaptic cleft after ingestion and it increases dopamine receptors D1 and D3 binding in the NAc, as well as dopamine transporter binding in the midbrain and has been shown to decrease D2 receptors binding similar to cocaine use (4,6).
Many other neuromodulators and neurotransmitters play an important role in addiction. Endogenous opioids released into the NAc have been found to stimulate the desire for sucrose and have developed into addiction in animal models (9). Excessive sugar consumption was shown to sensitize mu-opioid receptors as shown with drugs of abuse (12). The feeling of satiation is due to the release of...

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