Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can 'love hormone' protect against addiction?

Date:
March 20, 2014
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
Addictive behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "love hormone" system in our bodies during early childhood, according to researchers. The groundbreaking idea has resulted from a review of worldwide research into oxytocin, known as the "love hormone" or "bonding drug" because of its important role in enhancing social interactions, maternal behavior and partnership.

This is an online-quality graphic showing factors influencing the oxytocin system and its link to addiction.
Credit: University of Adelaide

Addictive behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "love hormone" system in our bodies during early childhood, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide.

Related Articles


The groundbreaking idea has resulted from a review of worldwide research into oxytocin, known as the "love hormone" or "bonding drug" because of its important role in enhancing social interactions, maternal behavior and partnership.

This month's special edition of the international journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior deals with the current state of research linking oxytocin and addiction, and has been guest edited by Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman from the University of Adelaide's School of Medical Sciences.

Dr Buisman-Pijlman, who has a background in both addiction studies and family studies, says some people's lack of resilience to addictive behaviors may be linked to poor development of their oxytocin systems.

"We know that newborn babies already have levels of oxytocin in their bodies, and this helps to create the all-important bond between a mother and her child. But our oxytocin systems aren't fully developed when we're born -- they don't finish developing until the age of three, which means our systems are potentially subject to a range of influences both external and internal," Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

She says the oxytocin system develops mainly based on experiences.

"The main factors that affect our oxytocin systems are genetics, gender and environment. You can't change the genes you're born with, but environmental factors play a substantial role in the development of the oxytocin system until our systems are fully developed," Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

"Previous research has shown that there is a high degree of variability in people's oxytocin levels. We're interested in how and why people have such differences in oxytocin, and what we can do about it to have a beneficial impact on people's health and wellbeing," she says.

She says studies show that some risk factors for drug addiction already exist at four years of age. "And because the hardware of the oxytocin system finishes developing in our bodies at around age three, this could be a critical window to study. Oxytocin can reduce the pleasure of drugs and feeling of stress, but only if the system develops well."

Her theory is that adversity in early life is key to the impaired development of the oxytocin system. "This adversity could take the form of a difficult birth, disturbed bonding or abuse, deprivation, or severe infection, to name just a few factors," Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

"Understanding what occurs with the oxytocin system during the first few years of life could help us to unravel this aspect of addictive behavior and use that knowledge for treatment and prevention."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Femke T.A. Buisman-Pijlman, Nicole M. Sumracki, Jake J. Gordon, Philip R. Hull, C. Sue Carter, Mattie Tops. Individual differences underlying susceptibility to addiction: Role for the endogenous oxytocin system. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 2014; 119: 22 DOI: 10.1016/j.pbb.2013.09.005

Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Can 'love hormone' protect against addiction?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100514.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2014, March 20). Can 'love hormone' protect against addiction?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100514.htm
University of Adelaide. "Can 'love hormone' protect against addiction?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320100514.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins