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How Does Opioid Addiction Occur?

Opioids are some of the most addictive substances on the planet. Some opioids can make you addicted even after a single dose. Here’s all you need to know about how opioids get you addicted.

How Opioids “Hack” the Reward System

Opiates such as morphine, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Vicodin, and heroin have slightly different effects on the brain, but they all share one pathway. They activate the opioid receptors in the brain. The opioid receptors are part of the reward system of the brain. When you do something that your body thinks is good for you, your opioid receptors get activated, and you feel good. Heroin works by passing through your blood-brain barrier and directly hacking the reward system. It activates the opioid receptors even when your body hasn’t sent any signal to do such. As a result, you feel euphoric and relaxed like you would after exercise, only the effects are tens of times stronger. Your brain takes note of this discrepancy and reacts by multiplying the number of opioid receptors and balancing the drug’s euphoric effects. As a result, you need the drug just to feel “normal” and higher doses to get high.

Addiction: The Seeking Behavior

Our behavior follows a very simple algorithm. We seek what our brains recognize as pleasurable, and we run away from what our brains recognize as unpleasant. We like to think our rational brain is in control, but it’s subservient to our primitive desires. Opioids cause greater euphoria than any other natural activity. The brain recognizes the drug as the greatest source of pleasure, and the addict wants the drug more than anything else. This seeking behavior is what we call addiction.

Dependence: The Withdrawal Symptoms

The terms “addiction” and “dependence” are sometimes used interchangeably, but it’s important to point out the distinction between them. While addiction refers to seeking behavior, dependence is characterized by the changes in the brain after taking the drug. The high number of opioid receptors results in effects that are the opposite of the drug’s original effects, leaving the patient worse off than when they first took the drug.If you or someone you know is suffering from heroin addiction, there’s hope. MD MATT is a suboxone clinic in Baltimore that helps people with heroin addiction recovery. We also offer alcohol addiction treatment in Baltimore. Visit our website and book a same-day appointment today!