The glutamate neurotransmitter system is very important to field of addiction and chemical dependency treatment. Glutamate is located throughout the entire cortex and is the agitating aspect of the brain. An individual with low levels of the glutamate neurotransmitter will have very little anxiety or agitation relative to a person with abnormally high levels of glutamate.
Understanding the delicate balance that exists between the relaxing GABA and the agitating glutamate neurotransmitter systems is vital to understanding alcoholism. Harnessing and controlling this balance is essential to facilitating a safe and successful alcohol detoxification. The glutamate neurotransmitter system must be brought under control during treatment and detoxification because high levels of the glutamate neurotransmitter are toxic and can lead to seizure.
By fully grasping the role of the glutamate neurotransmitter system in alcoholism, people can more easily understand both why they might have become addicted in the first place, and the best methods to escape the addiction. When a person is under the influence of alcohol many of the neurotransmitters are elevated, including both glutamate and GABA. The high GABA levels contribute to the over-all good feelings associated with drinking. After the drink wears off, levels of most of the neurotransmitters return to normal, but in a heavy drinker, the glutamate neurotransmitter level remains elevated, leading to agitation and the “need” to have another drink to alleviate the symptoms of high glutamate.
Learn more about the glutamate neurotransmitter system’s revealing role in alcoholism in Addictionologist Dr. Fred Von Stieff’s book, Brain In Balance: Understanding the Genetics and Neurochemistry Behind Addiction and Sobriety, available in Print, Kindle, and Audiobook formats. He explains how focusing on neurotransmitters throughout chemical dependency treatment results in long-term sobriety for virtually anyone struggling with substance abuse.