THE BRAIN ON DRUGS

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE recently published an article that reported: Addiction is a brain disease, “not a choice, not a personality flaw, not a moral failing,” said Dr. Jody Glance, an addiction specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Researchers have found that a key part of what makes opioid addiction so entrenched and difficult to quit is the way the drug changes the brain.

When you sense something pleasurable, the brain releases a natural chemical called dopamine that trains the body to remember, “I liked that, let’s do it again.” That’s the brain’s reward system, and opioids can hijack it by triggering a surge of dopamine larger than nature ever could. Repeated opioid use overloads circuits in multiple brain regions. At the same time, the brain gradually releases less dopamine in response to other things the person once found pleasurable. Eventually they seek more of the drug not to get high, but to avoid constantly feeling low.

My reaction: When my son was in active addiction, I didn’t know anything about the affect of opiates on the brain. It was all so new and overwhelming to me. He was prescribed medication, including methadone and buprenorphine, but he abused everything he came into contact with. Despite my best efforts to find good treatment for my son, I needed additional education and other options.

Today’s Promise to consider: Drug use is not a personal affront to those they love, but it is an addict in pursuit of dopamine stimulation  – and eventually, regulation. Brain research shows that addiction seizes the brain and sends the user down a path that’s out of his control. Today, I commit to continuing to educate myself about current addiction and recovery research. I pray for wisdom – for son, myself, and the therapeutic community.

 

6
Leave a Reply

avatar
3 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
libbycataldiBeverly WeimerPat NicholsBeth Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Beth
Guest
Beth

This thought the drug addiction is not a moral failure but an illness makes it easier to love. Yet, I do believe that there is a spit element involved so I am not sure how to connect the dots.

Pat Nichols
Guest

Once I was willing to accept addiction as a primary disease, a mental illness, everything in my world changed. I began to see my son as a hostage instead of a perpetrator. I was then willing to see a counselor and follow through with his recommendations which then lead me to a parent twelve step support group. I also began to realize that I didn’t know the God of my understanding. I began an earnest desire to grow closer to Him, to trust Him in all things. I worked hard on myself but eventually my peace and serenity returned. I… Read more »

Beverly Weimer
Guest
Beverly Weimer

Great educational, informative info about addiction….especially for those who “stereotype” the addict and are very judgemental.