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Can Stem Cells Be Used to Treat Addiction?

Posted by arizonarecovery on March 19, 2020

There is no doubt that addictions can be fatal for you. For decades, both medical and scientific experts have been trying to find a concrete solution for treating all kinds of addictions. But there is yet to be a ground-breaking discovery in the field. For the past few years, researchers have been working with stem cells to develop a cure for substance abuse. Simply put, stem cells are special cells that have the ability to grow into newer cells. They are the building blocks of your body. 

Stem cells are usually acquired from 3 to 5 days old embryos. Embryonic cells are adaptive and can become any type of cell. Similarly, stem cells can also be taken from adults. They are often found in fat or bone marrow. However, adult stem cells aren’t as adaptive as embryonic ones. Besides, stem cells can be acquired from the umbilical cord, too. They are equally potent and adaptive as those taken from the embryos. 

Addiction is a neurological disorder

Given the complexity of the condition, addiction was considered a behavioral problem until now. Two of the main reasons why substance abuse begins is ‘experimentation’ and ‘peer pressure.’ So, it was safe to identify addiction as not only a behavioral but also a social problem. But the issue with disregarding the other main causes of substance abuse is that it limits the scope of the possible treatments. This is why it’s essential to recognize biology as yet another cause for addiction. 

It is common knowledge that individuals can suffer from addictions if there is a history of substance abuse in their families. For example, a child has a decent chance of growing up to be an alcoholic if they have grown up around an alcoholic parent. So, addiction has now come to be termed as a neurological disorder. 

According to Dr. Michael Miller, former President of American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “The disease is about brains, not drugs. It’s about underlying neurology, not outward actions.” Therefore, addictions can often be difficult to predict and prevent.

Addiction alters your brain’s reward system. Researchers suggest there is a link between orexin – a neuropeptide that’s responsible for arousal – and your desire for consuming addictive substances. While it reduces over time, it eventually turns into behavior or habit. So, it does not matter how adverse the effects are and how unhappy your addiction makes you, you will continue reaching out for the substance every chance you get.     

But that’s not the only result of prolonged substance abuse. Since your brain is used to obtaining rewards for negative behavior, you develop a sort of ‘itch’ that you can’t control. Ultimately, this leads to you going back to your drugs, alcohol or tobacco to feel alive and normal because you can’t feel positive otherwise. Besides, a clouded judgment is yet another reason for addiction becoming fatal and untreatable in many cases. 

How can stem cells help with addiction?

Since addiction has been established as a brain disorder now, we have opened ourselves to a plethora of possible treatments. Scientists believe that under the right laboratory conditions, it is possible to learn more about stem cells and their regenerative patterns. Since they can potentially help with tissue repair and even multiply into newer cells (known as daughter cells), they can be used to curb addictive disorders.

Researchers have found stem cells to help with neurological disorders that now include addictive problems. Stem cells can mature over time and regenerate major brain cells, which can be used to treat addicts. They can replace the old cells in the brain with the new ones and relearn behavior right from scratch. While this is a complex procedure, stem cells have the potential to correct addictive behaviors without allowing the problem to come back. =

Why use stem cell therapy for addiction?

Several states in the US have already recognized the use of stem cell therapy to treat addicts. Stem cells are found to combat “inflammatory patterns” – something that’s common across all addicts’ brains. Through stem cell therapy, it is possible to achieve unprecedented success in the treatment of substance abuse within months. While it’s a rather new science, this FDA-approved therapy has shown a lot of promise in recent years.  

Preservation of stem cells

Thanks to technology and the brilliant medical minds across the world, you can store your stem cells and use them later to treat several diseases and disorders. You can choose whether you want to make your stem cells public, which can be used by anyone, or you want to keep them private, which can only be used by you and your family. 

Storing both cord blood (Haematopoietic Stem Cells or HSCs) and cord tissue (Mesenchymal Stem Cells or MSCs) can be beneficial for you in the long run. While HSCs can help with blood disorders, MSCs work well with conditions that require regeneration of the cells. 

But you should know that your safety comes at a price. Depending on your clinic, there may be annual or monthly maintenance fees for storing your future. So, if you opt to store both kinds of stem cells, you might have to stretch your finances twice more. Stem cells in Scottsdale is seeing tremendous results on their addiction treatment therapies.

The success rate of stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy has already found its way in the US. While there are only handful of groups using this innovative approach, one particular study carried out in 2017 proves to be noteworthy in the understanding of stem cell therapy. 

The experiment performed on rats returned positive news about using stem cell therapy for addiction. The sampled rats were given alcohol for 3 months and subsequently, deprived of it for 7-14 days before giving them reaccess to the substance. An 85% drop in the consumption of alcohol was observed within 24 hours post-reaccess. The researchers concluded that stem cells can be used to treat addiction. And when properly administered, the addicts will have a less chance of relapse after using stem cell therapy. 

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