Opioids and Addiction: Why Do Some People Get Hooked and Others Don’t?

Opioids and Addiction: Why Do Some Get Hooked? Dr. Nikesh Seth

Opioids and Addiction: Why Do Some People Get Hooked and Others Don’t?

The term “addictive personality” doesn’t go very far in pinpointing why some people get addicted to opioids and other drugs while others don’t. Reputable medical professionals, like those at Integrated Pain Consultants, consider addiction factors as well as a variety of other indicators when considering if a patient should be prescribed opioids for pain management. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie CosijnsDr. Lisa SparksDr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.

Opioids: How Addiction Happens

Not very long ago, addiction was written off as a type of moral weakness. Science and research have made that argument moot, but we’re still not 100 percent certain why some people tend to get addicted more than others. The two primary theories include the disease theory model, which is a biological vulnerability to all addictive drugs. There’s also the theory that drug use is simply reinforcing to some people that repeating certain actions can make them feel good.

In the disease theory model, it’s thought that a person has a biological vulnerability to getting addicted well before they’ve ever tried a drug. It complements the Alcoholics Anonymous strategy and promotes the idea that medicines may be available to fix that chemical abnormality. Of course, that medicine hasn’t been created or discovered.

The second theory addresses the addictive properties of drugs themselves, and suggests that addiction might be learned. It’s supported by animal experiments where the lab animals learn to press buttons to keep feeding themselves addictive drugs. It also supports the fact that smoking crack is more addictive than snorting it since smoking it whisks it directly to the brain. The faster the reinforcement happens, the more addictive it becomes. Neuroscience also backs up this theory, since the neurotransmitter dopamine is meant to be used to reward positive behavior (such as eating and mating).

Regardless of which theory is correct, it’s proven that addicts have dopamine systems that aren’t as active as non-addicts. This means they don’t experience joy and pleasure as regularly as non-addicts in daily life. Brain receptors can get worn out if they’re over-stimulated, which is why new research suggests that dopamine systems that are abnormal due to genetics are linked to addictive tendencies.

So, why do some people get addicted and others don’t? Some researchers say that non-addicts are able to derive more pleasure via natural activities such as relationships and working out. Others are more of a thrill-seeker because they don’t get that same safe “high.” However, when it comes to pain and medication management, the likelihood of addiction is just one of many important factors to consider. Contact Integrated Pain Consultants at 480-626-2552 to get on the fast track to effective pain management.

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