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Have Researchers Found An Opiate Addiction Switch Inside The Brain?

opiate abuse, opiate addiction

Opiate addiction is a big problem in many cities and regions across the USA, and a new discovery made by neuroscientists may explain how addiction develops when opiate drugs are concerned. Opiate medications are typically prescribed to control pain, and they include many different drugs and medication names. Oxycontin, morphine, Vicodin, Percocet, Roxycodone, and many other prescription drugs contain opiates. These drugs help to relieve pain and discomfort from serious injuries, but many quickly become addicted. Eventually opiate addiction can lead the individual to heroin, which is an opiate but which is not legally prescribed for any reason in the USA and is illegal to possess or use. According to the researchers at Western University in London and the Addiction Research Group the research study has identified the switch in the memory molecule that forms the addiction.

 

The full study can be found in The Journal of Neuroscience in the September 11, 2013 edition, and the molecule that is involved is located in the basolateral amygdala of the brain. This is the region that controls memories, and the switch is located along the pathways. The pleasurable sensation of opiate use causes the switch to be triggered, and the brain remembers that this substance causes the user to get high. Relapse symptoms and withdrawal cravings also originate in this area of the brain and also involve the recently identified switch. Once addiction sets in the memory pathway is triggered and the switch turns on, making recovery more difficult due to the physical changes that the opiate use has caused.