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New Brain Study Has Scientists Rethinking Opioid Addiction

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Opioid Addiction Opioid addiction – could it all be in your head? Technically speaking, yes, and not in the way scientists previously thought. New research findings by the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggest that opioid addiction could be directly related to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the area related to self-control and planning.

Breaking Down The Opioid Addiction Study

In the past, scientists mostly studied how opioids affect areas of the brain below the cortex. For this study, they used brain scan imaging to take a closer look at the prefrontal cortex itself, and were surprised to discover that this sensitive area appeared to be a hot spot for opioid actions.

When a flood of opioids was released into the prefrontal cortex, the subjects lost their self-control and acted in ways that were disadvantageous to them – textbook addict behavior. Researchers also found that by blocking opioid systems in the prefrontal cortex, test subjects could gain back their self-control.

“This implies that if there is an excess of opioid action there, it actually can be one of the important substrates that drives food impulsivity and perhaps by extension, impulsivity in pursuing other rewards maladaptively as well – such as drugs,” study author Brian A. Baldo explained in an interview.

Why these findings are making waves

This study comes at a vital time, as opioids continue to be the leading cause of accidental drug overdoses in the US. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, prescription painkillers and heroin were responsible for more than half of all lethal overdoses in 2014. By conducting more research on the brain’s prefrontal cortex, doctors could gain more insight into developing drug strategies that block overactive opioid receptors in this area.

“The brain is an organ like any other,” Baldo said. “If we look at it from a biological perspective, we realize these disorders emerge from the dysregulated functioning of an organ just like any other disease.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, get help today. Contact The Watershed Texas now to discuss how you or someone you love can overcome opioid addiction.




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