Drug addiction is a serious issue for many individuals across the world. Although many people are capable of drinking and smoking within moderation, many more find themselves at the mercy of alcohol, tobacco, and harder substances. Alcohol, stimulant, and opiate abuse destroys many lives and families. However, there are always treatment options available.

One of these potential treatments is oxytocin. Oxytocin is usually regarded as a love hormone, or a feminine hormone. While it does play a role in conception and pregnancy, growing research indicates it may be able to provide many other uses and benefits. It may be able to treat and control addictive tendencies across many people.

In a study conducted in 1994, researchers looked into the effects of serotonin and oxytocin in relation to opiate withdrawal. In the study, they allowed rats and mice to self administer heroin and morphine respectively. The animal test subjects were supplied with as many opiates as they could consume, without leading to overdose and death.

Eventually, the researchers began injected the test subjects with oxytocin. Some subjects were also given a placebo. The placebo group did not exercise any restraint in heroin and morphine administration. However, those given oxytocin did. The researchers noted that the subjects given oxytocin used opiates in statistically significant lower amounts.

The causes behind drug use and drug addiction are complicated and nuanced, however. Different people use for different reasons. Often times, mental illness is comorbid with addiction issues. Individuals tend to self medicate when lacking proper medical care and facilities. Oxytocin may be able to benefit these individuals as well and perhaps prevent future drug addictions.

A study published in 2013 demonstrated the mentally alleviating potential of oxytocin. A group of researchers examined a wide range of individuals, many of which presented with pre-existing mental illnesses. The team of scientists would go on to examine levels of certain neurotransmitters within these individuals, including the neurotransmitter oxytocin.

Their findings indicated that dopamine and oxytocin levels were inversely proportional to pre-existing mental health conditions. Subjects that presented with schizophrenia confirmed this. Compared to mentally well individuals, those with schizophrenia had lower levels of oxytocin within their blood and brains. The same held true for those with anxiety disorders, OCD, and depression.

It would, therefore, appear that oxytocin is closely linked to the development of addiction and mental health problems. As shown in the study on mice and rats, oxytocin administration appeared to attenuate addictive behavior. In summary, oxytocin appeared to reduce cravings for illicit and addictive drugs.

It also appears that oxytocin could prevent addictions from forming, through its treatment potential for various mental health disorders. As noted by researchers, the presence of regular or higher levels of oxytocin was linked with lower rates of mental illness. Through exploiting these emotional regulating properties of oxytocin, individuals may be able to prevent addiction or relapse.

Oxytocin is a wondrous and multifaceted drug, used naturally within the body. Its potential benefits are widespread and widely demonstrated across many studies. This neurotransmitter and hormone may be capable of treating addiction and mental illness alike.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9210215

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815424/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120070/

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