Common sense has long dictated that parenting makes a big difference in a person’s life. Popular magazines have made a lot of money publishing tips on how to be a better parent or how to survive the poor parenting you received as a child. Intuitively, we understand that certain parenting skills may factor into whether or not someone tries and becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Research is beginning to emerge that uses hard science to confirm the beliefs we have instinctively held. The relationship between mother and child at a basic level was the subject of study. The University of Adelaide in Australia and Duke University in the United States have combined their efforts to research exactly how mothering affects offspring.
In studies, scientists exposed infant rats to the drug morphine. After the exposure to morphine, they monitored the rat pups’ physiological cravings for morphine. The baby rats that were well nurtured by their mother showed fewer cravings for the drug.
Additionally, the well-nurtured rats’ brains produced four times the amount of a substance called interleukin-10 (Il-10). Il-10 stops certain brain cells, called glial cells, from activating the reward center of the brain (after the use of morphine). The activation of this reward center is thought to lead to addiction. While Il-10 does not decrease the rewarding effects of morphine use, it does shut down cravings for the drug.
Scientists are excited about this research. Firstly, they have discovered a substance that eliminates cravings experienced by addicts. A drug that acts on the brain’s glial cells can provide a new way to treat drug addiction.
Secondly, although this research was not done on human subjects, scientists can speculate on how human parenting plays into the equation. Human infants have failed to grow and thrive when they did not receive nurturing touch, as reported in an article in the New York Times. Adding to an abundance of parenting suggestions, an emphasis should now be placed on touch throughout infancy as well.
Issues with addiction typically begin far beyond infant years, so providing a nurturing environment for an infant cannot prevent all addiction. However, it does allow for healthy growth and development which parents hope will contribute to an ongoing healthy, sober lifestyle for their children.
Disclaimer: The pictures in this blog are being used for illustrative purposes only; and any person depicted in the content, if any, is a model.
Posted on January 3rd, 2012 in Help Blog