The Disease Model of Addiction: Is There A Virus That Causes Addiction?

By November 7, 2018 No Comments
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At Seasons Bali, we don’t think of addiction as a moral failing. Evidence shows that there are many possible causes of addiction. Furthermore, evidence indicates that thinking of addicts as “bad people” is not constructive or conducive to successful recovery. If we say that addiction is a moral failing, we are not only ignoring the evidence. We are putting a barrier to success in place. Beating yourself up for the supposed moral failure in becoming addicted is “stinking thinking.” This leads an addict to essentialize himself or herself, to self-identify as a bad person. And self-identifying one’s self as a bad person leads to the spiral of shame and a belief that one does not deserve a happy or healthy life. You might find some comfort in the fact that there is biological evidence that it is quite possible that to some extent there is a virus that causes addiction.

Everyone deserves a happy healthy life. In our view, no one is responsible for their propensity to become addicted. But you are responsible for what you do about it. By seizing this responsibility without beating yourself up, you can beat addiction. Seasons Bali can help.

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Can A Virus Cause Addiction?

Some people seem to be more likely than others to develop dependencies on drugs or alcohol. While a virus may explain why some people are particularly susceptible to addiction, there are many theoretical risk factors. A history of trauma and addicted parents are among the most well known risk factors for addiction. Researchers have now added a retrovirus to the possible causes of addiction.

Researches have recently developed a theory that a retrovirus that infected our ancestors may have caused some people to be more susceptible to addiction. A retrovirus is a virus that has the potential to alter our DNA. According to the theory, a particular virus that first appeared over 250,000 years ago alters DNA in a way that can make individuals more susceptible to addiction. This gives strong support to what we call the disease model of addiction – the notion that addiction should be primarily addressed as a medical issue, not a moral one.

The particular virus is called HK2. Researchers believe that between 5% and 10% of people alive today have traces of the HK2 virus. They discovered the virus seems to be 2.5 times more likely to be present in individuals who have HIV or hepatitis C and contracted it through intravenous drug use compared to individuals who became infected with HIV or hepatitis C through other means, such as sexual intercourse.

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Can one of the causes of addiction be isolated in a petri dish?

A New Study of the Addiction-Related HK2 Virus

The study was published in the prestigious UK science journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. The study is a joint effort of researches at the University of Athens in Greece and Oxford University in London, England. The Greek scientists examined genetic evidence from 200 individuals with HIV while the English researchers looked at genetic evidence from 180 people that were infected with hepatitis C.

In both groups, scientists found that a much higher percentage of infected people that they studied who reported intravenous drug had the HK2 retrovirus than those who were not intravenous drug users. Among the HIV infected group in Greece, IV drug users were 2.5 times more likely to have the virus. In the hepatitis C infected group in England, the IV drug users were 3.6 times more likely to have the virus. A previous study linked abnormalities in the RASGRF2 gene to an inclination to binge drinking.

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The HK2 Virus Affects “The Dopamine Gene”

HK2 can affect a gene called RASGRF2. This gene affects the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that triggers activity in the brain’s pleasure center. Dopamine production increases when people use drugs. Scientists believe this is what causes addicts to repeat the act of taking drugs. Drug-induced dopamine production appears to crowd out natural dopamine production from healthy sources of pleasure, like achieving an accomplishment or experiencing a social connection.

After observing the presence of HK2 in addicts, scientists conducted tests in a laboratory on human cells. They inserted HK2 into the RASGRF2 gene and discovered that it changes the way the DNA creates proteins. So far, they have been unable to draw conclusions about how it affects dopamine production. But it seems very plausible that abnormalities in this gene that are caused by a virus can affect the way the brain responds to drugs, and indeed other forms of addiction, rendering certain individuals more susceptible to addiction. This study provides support for the disease model of addiction. An evidence-based approach to addiction treatment can help people who have a genetic susceptibility to addiction overcome their special challenge and live a clean and happy life.

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Recognize You Have A Problem And Take A Step Twoards Recovery Today

If you are genetically susceptible to addiction, you should not blame yourself for a genetic condition. But you are responsible for your choices. You can choose to take responsibility for your actions and do the work to get clean and live a better life. It is worth the effort!

You know that you -or someone you know – has a problem. That is why you are here reading this. You know it will be hard to fix. But we are here to tell you: you can do it and we can show you how. Take the first step on the road to a better life. Learn more about our Rehab Program in Bali for recovering from addiction and make a plan.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol or any other form of addiction, call one of our experts today on (toll-free Australia) 1800 288 348 or +62 8124678 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you.



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