It almost seems like the brain is wired for addiction. Once the brain experiences the intense euphoria produced by opioids or stimulants, it “tells” the user to repeat the behavior leading to this euphoria. Ultimately, an addict’s brain focuses on nothing but obtaining drugs and getting high again.
One of the primary reinforcers of addiction is the neurotransmitter dopamine. A powerful and important brain chemical that is also implicated in schizophrenia and neurological disorders, dopamine is necessary for feeling pleasure, motivating us to think, plan, and execute actions, and giving us the ability to pursue goals that provide enjoyment.
During the process of addiction, the brain learns to associate excess dopamine with the euphoric “high” that follows drug use. Abusing drugs or alcohol actually trains the brain to seek the same experience and the same drugs over and over again.
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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 13,000 people (four deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens) died from drug overdoses involving heroin in 2020. In addition, overdose deaths blamed primarily or partly on heroin were seven times higher in 2020 than heroin-related overdose deaths in 1999.
Treatment for heroin addiction is a complicated process that requires a lifetime commitment from the recovering heroin addict. In addition to completing medical detoxification, heroin addicts must also receive cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, and medication management involving FDA-approved drugs that relieve cravings.
Cocaine may be even more addictive than heroin, according to research. Long-term users of cocaine could suffer from genetic changes that reinforce physical addiction to the drug. Cocaine appears to activate genes that code for a specific protein. This gene activation triggers the protein into producing chemicals that increase a cocaine user’s sensitivity to the drug’s rewarding effects.
No FDA-approved or off-label medications are available to treat cocaine addiction. Medical detoxification and behavioral interventions are staples of any cocaine treatment program. Aftercare is necessary as well to help addicts in recovery avoid relapsing.
Methamphetamine chloride is approved for treating ADHD and obesity in the U.S. Street “meth” is made in covert laboratories by drug cartels and sold by dealers at a cheap price. By using filler ingredients like pseudoephedrine and lighter fluid, cartels are able to sell more meth at low prices.
Like cocaine, no medication management exists to help treat methamphetamine addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy, relapse prevention, and intensive counseling are the primary components of a meth treatment program.
Every year, over 90,000 adults die from the side effects of alcohol addiction. Liver failure (cirrhosis), drunk driving accidents, and alcohol poisoning have made alcohol abuse the third-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., just behind cigarette smoking and obesity.
Treatment for alcoholism involves, detoxification, medication management, cognitive behavioral therapy, and long-term aftercare services exclusively provided by Baystate Recovery Center.
Contact Baystate Recovery Center today by filling out our online form. We offer treatment programs for all drug and alcohol abuse disorders.