Watching a loved one struggle with an addiction problem can be frustrating and heartbreaking all at once. Attempts to reason with him or her may seem promising on the surface, but do little if anything to curb his or her drug-using behavior.
As one of the fastest growing addictions of our time, opiate addiction slowly but surely warps the mind and essentially changes a person’s psychological makeup over time. Understanding how opiate addiction works can help you take steps to seek out needed treatment help for a loved one who’s fallen prey to addiction’s effects.
Opiate Interactions with Brain Functioning
According to Harvard Health Publications, the beginnings of opiate addiction take shape inside the brain’s chemical system, where the drug’s effects alter brain cell functions. Under normal conditions, certain brain cells release needed amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals, most notably, dopamine and serotonin.
In the presence of opiates, these same cells release abnormally high levels of neurotransmitter chemicals. With repeated drug use, these interactions throw off the brain’s chemical system and set the stage for the roots of opiate addiction to take hold.
Call our toll-free helpline at 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?) for information on opiate addiction treatment options.
Opiate Addiction’s Effects on How the Brain Thinks
Opiate addiction develops out of the damage done to the brain’s reward system. This system shapes a person’s:
- Belief systems
According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, over the course of drug use, the reward system forms associations between environmental stimuli and the experience of getting “high.” In effect, anything associated with the “high” experience becomes hardwired into the brain reward system.
These associations act as cues or triggers that fuel drug-using urges and drive drug-using behavior.
While not directly related to a person’s thinking processes, the ongoing effects of opiates on the brain’s physiological makeup play a pivotal role in a growing opiate addiction problem. With each successive dose of the drug, chemical imbalances become more pronounced, which inevitably starts to change the brain’s overall physical structure over time.
By the time opiate addiction sets in, the brain works differently, so a person thinks and acts differently as a result.
More than anything else, addiction changes the way a person thinks; a condition that develops out of the brain’s warped reward system functions. Opiate addiction redirects your loved one’s motivations and priorities to the point where the importance of family and work has been replaced with an obsessive need to get and use the drug.
In effect, the opiate “high” has become a primary means for surviving or coping with daily life.
The Need for Opiate Addiction Treatment Help
The effects of opiate addiction create a whole new belief system that breeds its own logic, emotions and behaviors. In the absence of needed treatment help, continued drug use will only see your loved one become more entrenched within this frame of mind. The longer this goes on the harder it will be to break addiction’s hold on his or her life.
If you have any further questions about opiate addiction, or need information on available treatment options, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addiction counselors.