How heroin and opioids hijack the brain

0 Comments | Posted

Worthy read from the NPR Shots Blog ~

brain
“When Jack O'Connor was 19, he was so desperate to beat his addictions to alcohol and opioids that he took a really rash step. He joined the Marines.

‘This will fix me,’ O'Connor thought as he went to boot camp. ‘It better fix me or I'm screwed.’

After 13 weeks of sobriety and exercise and discipline, O'Connor completed basic training, but he started using again immediately.

‘Same thing,’ he says. ‘Percocet, like, off the street. Pills.’

Percocet is the brand name for acetaminophen and oxycodone. Oxycodone is a powerful opioid. It's one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers, and is a key factor in one of the country's most pressing public health problems — an opioid addiction epidemic. It is a crisis that started, in part, from the over-prescription of painkillers, like Percocet, and then shifted to heroin, as people addicted to prescription drugs looked for a cheaper high.

O'Connor is one of an estimated 2.5 million Americans addicted to opioids and heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Over three years, he detoxed from prescription painkillers — and heroin — more than 20 times. Each time, he started using again. So why is it so hard for opioid addicts to quit? You can boil it down to two crucial bits of science: the powerful nature of opioids and the neuroscience behind how addiction hijacks the brain.

Comments

Leave a Comment