Other ways to search: Events Calendar | UTHSC

The science of addiction: How opioids — and environment — change the brain


Opiate drugs, which come from the opium poppy flower, and synthetic, or man-made, opioids also can trigger that brain process in the mesolimbic system. The drugs attach to certain specialized proteins on the same receptor brain cells where the pleasure-causing chemicals the body naturally makes normally attach. So can other drugs, including alcohol — but the body seems to develop a tolerance to opioid drugs more quickly. That is, it develops a tolerance for the drugs’ abilities to relieve pain or produce pleasure, requiring an increasingly higher amount to fire up the process that produces dopamine, said neuropsychiatrist Dr. Richard Gibson, an addiction specialist who practices, teaches and conducts research at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville…
…Dr. Daniel Sumrok, director of the Center for Addiction Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine in Memphis, said the “trauma of childhood” absolutely can cause “neurobiological changes.” He estimates 90 percent of his clients have had three or more ACEs. In two outpatient clinics, Sumrok combines medication-assisted therapy with therapy to address those childhood traumas. Drug use, he believes, is actually “ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking”; part of his job is to help patients replace it with a safer, legal coping behavior.

Top Publishers