Saturday, July 12, 2008

Opiod .v. Opiate

Brain Opioid: ( Endorphins; end-ogenous + m-orphin-e Enkephalin, Dynorphins) these are known as Neuropeptides. (Peptide molecules produced and released in the nervous system that act like transmitters)

Exercise, ("runners high") chocolate, laughing, hot peppers.... stress and pain. All of these things release endorphins (dopamine etc.).......attach to receptors, and determine our mood, pain threshold, and stress level. It is a natural brain function and biological process that brings a result. Again, each transmitter bonding only to certain receptors like "a specific key fitting a certain lock". Endorphins are also involved in respiration, nausea, vomiting, pain modulation, and hormonal regulation.

One of the most interesting facts I learned, is that this bond is always temporary. After the receptors receives the signal the chemical is recycled or destroyed.

The process of inactivation of the transmitter happens in one of three ways:
Reuptake: Reabsorbtion and recycling. This is a common way the action of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin is stopped...these neurotransmitters are removed from the synaptic cleft so they cannot bind to receptors.
Chemical Enzymes: Destruction of the neurotransmitter known as enzymatic degradation. A specific enzyme changes the structure of the neurotransmitter so that it is not recognized by the receptor
Diffusion: the neurotransmitter becoming detached from the receptor and drifts out of the synaptic cleft.

This is our bodies and our brains way of regulating these chemicals so they are never in contact with receptors long enough to form tolerance or dependency.

Opiate #2 Opium, Morphine etc

If we live on this planet, whether we ever did drugs or not, we already had an understanding that within seconds of sniffing, inhaling or injecting opiates (specifically) that this chemical travels directly to the brain through the bloodstream activating the brains 'reward circuits', immediately arousing intense pleasure, well being and euphoria.

I still can't be sure how many times someone has to repeat this activity to become addicted. I don't know if there are any sound statistics. Some say they were immediately addicted. Others I talked to said it took some time. Depending on the risk involved may be part of the answer. Say someone is taking pain pills for pain. Orally that is. It may take quite a long time for dependency to occur. With recreational use, you are going after the high. You seek it out and then go back for more of the same. I believe (and this is only my opinion) that there is a definite difference between a hereditary addiction and one that develops into a 'dependency'. Some may argue that but I have found that although the battle to 'quit' is just intense for both, the person who is not genetically predisposed to addiction may be more determined to quit and may not find themselves lying in a alleyway somewhere. Whatever the case, all addicts refer to themselves as addicts and do not believe it matters how they got there. Whether it is sooner or later, the outcome is always the same.

Opiate drugs work by mimicking natural opiate-like molecules made and used in the brain.

Once in the brain, the heroin is rapidly converted to morphine, which then activates and overstimulates opiate receptors causing greater amounts of dopamine to be released. Over time, addictive drugs alter the way in which the pleasure center, as well as other parts of the brain, functions. The way the cells communicate is changing. Changes to the synapse and shape of brain cells is inevitable. The brain will try to adapt, reducing the amount of dopamine released into the synapse. Over time a tolerance builds and cells grow so used to having abnormal amounts of the synthetic opiates around that they actually need these amounts to feel normal. Normal amounts are no longer adequate. Brain regions are now becoming 'hardwired". The drugs have taken over. If opiates are taken away from dependent nerve cells, these cells become overactive.

To decide to 'quit' is a very intense and lengthy battle. It will be impossible to stop now without going through severe withdrawal. It is a painfully long battle to fight. It will take time for the brain to go back to its original state. For most, it will be the battle of their lives. It will not go away easily. They are not only faced with the physical aspects of overcoming addiction, but also (and even more intense) is the mental and emotional fight. Of the three, the physical addiction is the easiest to overcome.

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