The reward deficiency syndrome hypothesis posits that genes are responsible for reward dependence and related behaviors. There is evidence that both bulimia and anorexia nervosa, especially in women, have been linked to a lifetime history of substance use disorder (SUD). There are difficulties in accepting food as an addiction similar to drugs; however, increasingly neuroimaging studies favor such an assertion.
We are reporting the evidence of comorbidity of eating disorders with SUD found within these case presentations. We show 50 case reports derived from two independent treatment centers in Florida that suggest the commonality between food and drug addictions. In an attempt to provide data from this cohort, many participants did not adequately respond to our questionnaire.
We propose that dopamine agonist therapy may be of common benefit. Failure in the past may reside in too powerful D2 agonist activity leading to D2 receptor downregulation, while the new methodology may cause a reduction of “dopamine resistance” by inducing “dopamine homeostasis.” While this is not a definitive study, it does provide some additional clinical evidence that these two addictions are not mutually exclusive.
Certainly, it is our position that there is an overlap between food- and drug-seeking behavior. We propose that the studies focused on an effort to produce natural activation of dopaminergic reward circuitry as a type of common therapy may certainly be reasonable. Additional research is warranted.
Addictive-like behaviors (e.g., hoarding and shopping) may be the result of the cumulative effects of dopaminergic and other neurotransmitter genetic variants as well as elevated stress levels. We, therefore, propose that dopamine homeostasis may be the preferred goal in combating such challenging and unwanted behaviors, when simple dopaminergic activation through potent agonists may not provide any resolution.
C.J. is a 38-year-old, single, female, living with her mother. She has a history of substance use disorder as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, inattentive type. She had been stable on buprenorphine/naloxone combination and amphetamine, dextroamphetamine mixed salts for many years when unexpectedly she lost her job for oversleeping and not calling into work. KB200z (a pro-dopamine compound) was added to her regimen for complaints of low drive and motivation. After taking this nutraceutical for 4 weeks, she noticed a marked improvement in her mental status and many behaviors. She noted that her shopping and hoarding addictions had appreciably decreased. Furthermore, her lifelong history of terrifying lucid dreams was eliminated. Finally, she felt more in control; her locus of control shifted from external to more internal.
The hypothesis is that C.J.’s reported, behavioral, and psychological benefits resulted from the pro-dopamine-regulating effect of KB220Z across the brain reward system.
This effect, we surmise, could be the result of a new dopamine balance, across C.J.’s brain reward system. Dopamine homeostasis is an effect of KB220Z seen in both animal and human placebo-controlled fMRI experiments.
Changes in the nomenclature of addictions suggest a significant shift in the conceptualization of addictions, where non-substance related behaviors can also be classified as addictions. A large amount of data provides empirical evidence that there are overlaps of different types of addictive behaviors in etiology, phenomenology, and in the underlying psychological and biological mechanisms. Our aim was to investigate the co-occurrences of a wide range of substance use and behavioral addictions.
The present epidemiological analysis was carried out as part of the Psychological and Genetic Factors of the Addictive Behaviors (PGA) Study, where data were collected from 3,003 adolescents and young adults (42.6% males; mean age 21 years). Addictions to psychoactive substances and behaviors were rigorously assessed.
Data is provided on lifetime occurrences of the assessed substance uses, their co-occurrences, the prevalence estimates of specific behavioral addictions, and co-occurrences of different substance use and potentially addictive behaviors. Associations were found between (i) smoking and problematic Internet use, exercising, eating disorders, and gambling (ii) alcohol consumption and problematic Internet use, problematic online gaming, gambling, and eating disorders, and (iii) cannabis use and problematic online gaming and gambling.
The results suggest a large overlap between the occurrence of these addictions and behaviors and underlies the importance of investigating the possible common psychological, genetic and neural pathways. These data further support concepts such as the Reward Deficiency Syndrome and the component model of addictions that propose a common phenomenological and etiological background of different addictive and related behaviors.