Heroin Addiction & Dopamine
Dr. James Strawbridge Says...
There is only one addiction---dopamine addiction. When heroin addicts shoot up, the street drug causes their brains to produce dopamine. Heroin is a trigger. It's the dopamine flow that actually creates the sensation of being 'high.' When it comes to scoring dopamine rewards, there are many triggers. For some the target is cocaine. For others it can be nicotine, alcohol, sex, gambling, or food. Psychological dopamine addictions are more insidious because the dopamine is triggered by highly addictive emotions, memories, thoughts, fantasies, ideologies, rhetoric, and deceptions. Researchers have recently added video games and texting to the list while continuing to ignore the most dangerous triggers that have come to be considered “normal” behaviors.
The treatment of opioid addiction can be grouped into opioid maintenance with methadone versus abstinence approaches. Choice of proper treatment depends on ones characteristic. The course of heroin addiction typically involves a 2 to 6-year intervals between the start of regular heroin use and seeking of treatment. Treatment takes total psychosocial rehabilitation.
Methadone programs substitute a long-acting methadone for short-acting heroin, and then gradually withdrawal from the methadone. They transfer the addiction from heroin to methadone. Methadone is administered to the patient orally at established methadone clinics. Although a mainstay of treatment, these programs reach only 29% to 25% of addicts, with program retention rates between 59% and 85% (Stimmel, Goldberg& Rotkopf, 1977). Opioid detoxification should be slow to avoid relapse. The drug should be removed by as little as 10% per week. Total abstinence may be the only alternative for many patients. Best of luck.
Page last updated Jun 07, 2014