Author: Gary Jackson


The disease model of addiction, studies show, also fosters more compassionate attitudes towards those who are addicted and more human treatment. Addiction is also viewed as a disease in order to facilitate insurance coverage of any treatment. Repeated use of a drug changes the wiring of the brain in a number of ways.

Having co-occurring mental illness may also influence the extent of the effects of heroin on mental health. Heavy use of heroin and heroin overdose may cause brain damage that can be permanent, as a result of hypoxia. Chronic use of heroin can disrupt the body’s ability to naturally produce the “feel good” chemical dopamine that’s released through heroin use. Calling addiction a brain disorder means, for one thing, that the machinery of addiction is complex and subtle, because the brain is complex and often subtle.

Impaired Neurotransmitter Functioning

Even with unpleasant reactions and a desire to stop using heroin, you may find it very challenging to stop on your own. If detox is physically impossible to endure, further treatment will be less effective. To enhance the safety of detox, it’s best the person is medically supervised. Using multiple forms of treatment is often more effective than just using one. While not everyone who takes legal painkillers or recreational substances becomes addicted, some people won’t be able to stop taking them.

If you use opioids for more than a few weeks, you’ll develop a drug tolerance. This means your body becomes used to the drug, and you start needing a higher dose to achieve the same effects. If you’re regularly using opioids, you’ll eventually develop a tolerance whether you’re using an illegal substance or not.

Opioid use disorder

The neuroplasticity of the brain, its ability to shape and reshape itself in response to the environment, is what enables human beings to survive and thrive under the many dynamic circumstances of real life. The proof that addiction can be unlearned neurally and behaviorally, experts say, is that most addicts recover, eventually. The very fast and very intense flood of dopamine generated by taking a drug of abuse motivates repetition of the drug-taking.

  • Researchers aren’t sure why vital brain tissues shrink after long-term drug exposure.
  • Prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone aren’t inherently dangerous or bad for you.
  • As a result, marijuana smokers do not typically smoke as frequently as tobacco smokers.40 Typical patterns of use are described below for the major classes of addictive substances.
  • It’s important to remember, though, that even if you or someone you care about has one or even many of these risk factors, that doesn’t mean they’ll develop a substance use disorder.
  • One result is impaired judgment, decision-making, and impulse control, a hallmark of addiction.

Naloxone, the second component in Suboxone, works as a misuse deterrent. It can’t correct brain cell damage, but it can work as a backstop against overdose if people take too much. Neurotransmitter changes respond to Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) programs. Therapies like Suboxone (a buprenorphine and naloxone combination) can correct chemical imbalances and help people think clearly despite the damage done to their brain cells.