Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. The symptoms of Lyme disease can be debilitating, including fatigue, joint pain, and neurological problems. However, recent research has suggested that there may be a link between Lyme disease and addiction.
Studies have found that individuals with Lyme disease are more likely to develop addiction to opioids, alcohol, and other substances. This may be due to the impact of the disease on the brain and nervous system, which can lead to changes in mood and behavior.
While there is evidence that some Lyme disease patients who are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed have been prescribed opioids for their chronic pain, there may also be a biological component to addiction in the case of Lyme disease:
Lyme Disease: A Biological Link to Addiction?
Lyme disease can cause brain inflammation, which is thought to be the underlying mechanism that leads to changes in mood and behavior. This inflammation can affect the brain’s reward system, making it more difficult for individuals to experience pleasure or reward from everyday activities. This can lead to an increased risk of addiction, as individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to feel pleasure and reward.
According to the Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, there is a link between inflammation and depression, with interleukin 17 (IL-17) being one of the proinflammatory cytokines that may play a role in the development of depressive disorders. The study suggests that anti-inflammatory compounds, such as glucocorticoids, may have a significant impact on depressive symptoms. The DEXA-PSYCH Study is investigating the use of oral dexamethasone as an augmentation in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. The study found that glucocorticoids displayed the largest effect size, which was equivalent to more than double the effect of current antidepressants, in a short period of time.
In the case of Lyme disease, brain inflammation is thought to be the underlying mechanism that leads to changes in mood and behavior. This inflammation can affect the brain’s reward system, making it more difficult for individuals to experience pleasure or reward from everyday activities. This can lead to an increased risk of addiction, as individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to feel pleasure and reward. Therefore, the use of anti-inflammatory compounds, such as glucocorticoids, may be a potential treatment option for individuals with Lyme disease who are at an increased risk of developing addiction. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between Lyme disease, inflammation, and addiction.
In addition to the link between inflammation and addiction, studies have also found that late-stage Lyme borreliosis is associated with multiple symptoms that may contribute to an increased risk of addictive disorders and substance abuse. These symptoms include chronic pain, anxiety, social anxiety, insomnia, anhedonia, and fatigue. A recent study showed a 1,100% (12-fold) increase in substance abuse after acquiring Lyme borreliosis, indicating that substance abuse potential in these patients should be given greater attention. Effective diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and attention to substance abuse potential may help prevent some cases of addictive disorders, substance abuse, and death.
Moreover, the choroid plexus (CP), a crucial structure for brain homeostasis, plays an active role in communicating inflammatory reactions from the periphery to the central nervous system. Enlargement of CP may reflect greater neuroinflammation, and abnormal function of the CP requires greater passage of peripheral inflammation markers to dampen neuroinflammation. A recent study explored the role of the CP in restrictive eating disorders, severe psychiatric disorders. Thus, studying the CP in Lyme disease and addiction may provide insights into the underlying mechanism of inflammation and addiction in this population.
Overall, further research is needed to fully understand the biological changes in the brain with Lyme disease and inflammation that lead to addiction. However, understanding the link between inflammation, depression, and addiction, and the potential benefits of anti-inflammatory compounds such as glucocorticoids, may aid in developing a multifaceted approach to treating addiction in individuals with Lyme disease.
Tips for Addiction Management
In addition to getting to the root cause of brain inflammation and Lyme disease, there are other practical tips you can utilize when dealing with addiction:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy that can help individuals with addiction to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. This type of therapy has been shown to be effective for individuals with a range of substance use disorders.
- Motivational interviewing: Motivational interviewing is a type of counseling that can help individuals with addiction to identify and work through ambivalence about changing their behavior. This type of therapy can be particularly helpful for individuals who are resistant to change.
- Support groups: Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can provide individuals with addiction with a sense of community and accountability. These groups can also provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and receive support from others who are going through similar challenges.
- Mindfulness-based therapies: Mindfulness-based therapies, such as mindfulness meditation and yoga, can help individuals with addiction to manage stress and anxiety. These therapies can also help individuals to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-compassion.
- Medication-assisted treatment: Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with opioid addiction. MAT is often used in combination with therapy and other supportive services.
Need help getting to the root cause of your addiction or fear you are dealing with undiagnosed Lyme disease? Call us at 844-844-2981 to see how we can help you!