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A dance with the devil. That’s how 33-year-old Elizabeth Mooney describes her struggle with drug addiction, recalling the “little voice” that repeatedly overpowered her mind after she had been in recovery, once for as long as three years. She knows the consequences of using again, yet she’s relapsed five times.

The desire became “stronger and stronger and stronger,” she said.


The opioid epidemic ravaging the United States has brought new impetus to understanding how addiction hijacks the brain. More and more, scientists are shifting their focus to what’s going on in the brain after people like Mooney go off drugs.

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  • My Boyfriend broke up our relationship on September 2016. I tried to make our relationship strong but I failed. I don’t know if is my fault or not, I love him so much wanted us to get back together and with the help of [email protected] com, my boyfriend was mine again Aaaawwwwww….

  • Vivitrol is only mentioned in passing, but it is truly close to being a miracle drug. The point of this and oral versions of Naltrexone is to reprogram the addicted brain to no longer associate the drug taking behavior with the reward of having its opioid receptors stimulated. I take oral Naltrexone an hour before I drink and when I do take a drink, there is no fun in it, just the other usually unnoticed effect of alcohol being a CNS depressant. This approach has caused me to cut my consumption to less than a fourth of what it was, but I have to drink to get the effect! Abstinence while on Naltrexone doesn’t work, because there is no association created between drinking and a lack of pleasure.

    Similarly heroin addicts will have to continue to take heroin while on vivitrol, as horrible as that sounds, so that their brain pathways will stop associating injecting heroin with getting high. It goes against our usual understanding and the attitude that abstinence is the only way forward, but Naltrexone can eliminate the cravings, something that nothing else can do. Everything else eventually fails and the person relapses.

    • Yes, i agree. Naltrexone is a miracle drug which has saved my life, and I speak of it to everyone I think might benefit. I call it an “off switch” for cravings of all kinds – opiates, alcohol, nicotine, even sugar. Now my monthly shot simply stops the cravings, in a way that no amount of punishment and pain (from physical, financial, family/social, or even criminal consequences) was able to accomplish. But like you say, that effect didn’t really take hold until extinguishment was accomplished. Post-shot, I tried the previously rewarding behavior of ingesting heroin and found it had no effect at all until the blockade wore off 6-8 weeks after my shot. (then, suddenly, it worked too well – didn’t know then that my overworked and underresponsive opiate receptors would regenerate during the blockade, so I overdosed on a mere dusting). The process of cognitive restructuring came in two waves: first, by quieting the part of my brain whose job it had become to obtain opiates, I found that I could better ignore that urge to use without exhaustive mental effort. But I was still vulnerable to spikes in this low baseline desire to use, like when a craving was triggered by a person, place or event associated with getting high in the past, especially when the consequences were removed. Therein lies naltrexone’s power to quash both the urge and the ability to use. By severing any reward from that behavior – by blocking the high – one learns that not only is is stupid but also pointless to do so. This is what finally led to complete extinguishment of the psychological addiction to opiates with which I’d suffered (and inflicted vicariously on my family) for several years before discovering Vivitrol. Before I’d say to myself “don’t do this”, do it anyway, and damn the consequences. I’d only feel horrible about it until I got high and again when I came down. Now I can skip over this cycle of use-regret-repeat. If I do slip up while on Vivitrol, it is a lapse, a fixable mistake; not a relapse, a return to a deeper circle of my personal hell. Now I rarely have to say”this was a complete waste of time, money, resources at great risk to my health, safety and the goodwill of my loved ones”

  • the effects of drugs are never husband was an addict for 10 years. this got him rehabilitated twice and sometimes in trouble.i almost gave up on him until he got prayed for by diviner peterson, who helped in getting him free from addiction.i got to contact him after i saw a testimony of a lady on this blog who also faced similar issue with her son until he got prayed for. now my husband is free from addiction and is being the best husband and father to our kids and i i’d urge anyone on this blog facing similar or any problem to also contact him via email:[email protected]

  • I found this article hopeful. Having a child that is a heroine addict, been through two detox yet has relapsed so many times I’ve lost count. Suboxene is just a gateway for an addict in my opinion. Getting into a Rehab is impossible for an addict who has no money and county health insurance. I’m watching my child slowly die. I hope through this article a lot more good will come forward.

  • With the scientific understanding of addiction & relapse especially with opioid isn’t use of suboxone, an opioid, without short term appropriate medical management necessary or are we fueling this epidemic & violating hipocratic oaths!

  • I think it is necessary to go back to the genesis of the addiction. It is my experience that those of us who are addicts (albeit in recovery for 30 years) not the result of falling into this subsequent to medically prescribed opioids became so as the result of wanting/needing to change our reality even temporarily to escape pain. I read recently about service members in
    Vietnam . The number of troops who used drugs on a regular basis during their deployment was astoundingly high, but most, upon returning home discontinued their use. How does this information comply with the research on epigenetics? I wonder if the plasticity of the brain might not be more applicable (“the neurons that fire together wire together”). I and other addicts I know in good recovery have virtually no urges to use, and no triggers seem to affect us. We have, essentially, rewired our brains. If there were some permanent epigenetic DNA changes, it would seem that this is not possible.

    • I agree with that,
      “wanting/needing to change our reality even temporarily to escape pain”,
      I’ve seen a lot of people use drugs in order to escape pain, in my experience the people I know did it to flee away from emotional pain, and they started using all sorts of drugs that just made them forget all the pain and feel good if for a little while. That use changed to very frequent use to escape it for as much as they could, combine this with excessive alcohol abuse. When they tried to come off the drugs, they got hit hard and had extremely bad reactions to it that lead to very dangerous thoughts and actions.
      So they felt the need to either end their lives or use again; after failed attempts to end their lives and getting legally stuck in help facilities, and after using again and seeing everything around them fall apart because of their use, they tried to detox again, leading again to a hard path with dangerous mental thoughts and actions. It’s a vicious circle. I noticed the very real brain change/damage in these people. Also I noted that there is a gene in their family that was seen in other family members that also have some sort of addiction or even suicide thoughts, in whatever form it may be. It’s hard to see loved ones go down that path. They have a genetic predisposition I noticed and there didn’t seem much anyone could do about it to help, and I now know that they can’t necessarily do anything about their addictive and destructive behavior, it seems be inborn and add in the drug use => permanent brain damage . I’m at that moment in time where either they relapsed and/or eventually they take their own lives. I hope that one day there will be a “cure”.

  • Interesting. I wonder whether the changes described here are a result of drug use itself .. or whether reward-seeking behavior plays a role in their development.

    Think of the effort your average heroin addict has to go through to score–find money, contact dealer, conduct illegal transaction, etc–and how much sweeter this makes the reward.

    I wonder, then, if drugs were more readily/trivially available (e.g. cheaply via legalized distribution channels), what effect this would have on these neurological changes.

    • Referring to repeated use results in long term changes and perhaps permanent brain damage which indicates to me abstinence aided by therapy and MAP is best way to go. Thus more funding for detox and treatment via tax on opioids at the pharma level.

    • A better source for treatment funding would be the savings realized by terminating the insane War on Drugs — the cause of decades of massive expense and human misery and, considering modern drug use rates, an abject failure besides.

    • What danger would that be? A significant reduction in the transmission of bloodborne disease? A 100% success rate in the prevention of on-site overdoses, even in the age of carfentanil? An increase in referrals to medical care, counselling and detox programs?

  • Very interesting and reliable article. If you are struggling against drug addiction then eliminate the words of give up from your life. You can only get rid of drug addiction with consistent efforts. However, if I talk about this article then it is full of interesting facts and figures especially references of researches are making it very attractive for keen readers.

    Flora Kohlmyer – Researcher at

  • Very interesting and encouraging article regarding, epigenetics. As an Addiction Counselor I am always looking for advancement in clinical research that transfers into beneficial therapeutic treatment.

    Thank you to all contributors to this article.

    Richard Schwartz

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