Lack of Acoustic Startle Response and Drug Addiction

Topics: Addiction, Drug addiction, Heroin Pages: 10 (3331 words) Published: August 27, 2013
Lack of Acoustic Startle Response and Drug Addiction
Amy L. Holmes
Liberty University

I. Abstract3
II. Introduction4
a. Stress4
b. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)4
c. Dopamine 5
III. Acoustic Startle Response Defined5
IV. Drug Addiction Defined5
V. Case Studies6
a. Opiate addiction6
b. Alcohol addiction8
c. Detoxification as an early on-set marker9
d. Cocaine9
e. Genetics11
VI. Conclusion12
VII. References14

Addiction is a growing concern all around the world and can lead to devastating lifelong consequences. Researchers are looking at individuals lacking the acoustic startle response (ASR) to be the genetic marker that indicates those individuals to be more susceptible to addiction. There has been some evidence that shows there is an increase in an individual’s acoustic startle response during the withdrawal period, studies show that the ASR drops below normal levels after the acute withdrawal period. Researchers ZhiQiang, DongMing, JianHong, and Ye (2010) proposed this theory inn their study using libratory rats, with statistically significant results that there is a decrease in the acoustic startle response in subjects with drug addiction. Studies have found that acoustic startle response in relationship to opiate, alcohol, and cocaine addiction are correlated. Now that research has made a connection between ASR and addiction there now needs to be a determination if the ASR is absent due to chronic drug abuse or nonexistent from birth.

Lack of Acoustic Startle Response and Drug Addiction
There appears to be an underlying predictor in individuals as to whether they may become addicts to substances following only one use of a substance. Individuals who are addicted to substances show a higher rate of risky behavior. Risky behavior can be sexual promiscuity leaving them exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), criminal activity and imprisonment, and can become a burden on society through the need for public assistance because they cannot hold down a job (Schluger, Borg, Ho, & Kreek, 2001). The acoustic startle response is the reflex of a muscle in the body to a loud sound stimulus. Rresearchers have been studying the link between those individuals lacking the acoustic startle response and an increased chance of their becoming easily addicted to a substance. Based on this new research we could predict an individual’s likelihood of becoming addicted before ever being exposed to the substance and therefore preventing a life of despair and risk taking.

In chapter sixteen of Sapolsky (1994) book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, addiction and acoustic startle response are correlated through Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) or the relationship between corrtisol and Dopamine levels were psychobiological stress levels can be measured, the body’s psychobiological responses to stress. The foundation of psychological stress has been found to be based on the lack of control and predictability. Corticol levels in an individual will be raised due to the stress. This stress level can be associated with the lack of impulse control, which plays an important role in becoming addicted and staying addicted. Some stress can make the individual feel euphoria, but too much can leave the person feeling sick. An individual needs just enough stress in their lives to challenge their body without overloading their system. Psychological stress is not the only change that is going on in your body during pleasure seeking periods, dopamine levels are also changing. Like stress too little dopamine in your system can leave you feeling sick or depressed, but the right amounts can leave you feeling...

References: Addiction. (April 20, 2013). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from
Chester, J
Schellekens, A. A., Mulders, P. R., Ellenbroek, B., Jong, C. J., Buitelaar, J. K., Cools, A., & Verkes, R. (2012). Early-onset alcohol dependence increases the acoustic startle reflex. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 36, 574–582.
Walter, M., Wiesbeck, G. A., Degen, B., Albrich, J., Oppel, M., Schulz, A., & ... Dürsteler-MacFarland, K. M. (2011). Heroin reduces startle and cortisol response in opioid-maintained heroin-dependent patients. Addiction Biology, 16, 145–151.
ZhiQiang, M., DongMing, Z., JianHong, W., & YuanYe, M. (2010). Chronic morphine treatment decreases acoustic startle response and prepulse inhibition in rats. Science China. Life Sciences, 53, 1356–1360.
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