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The science behind addiction and why it’s misunderstood

February 26, 2018 – The stigma that the disease of addiction is a moral flaw of weakness still exists. Raising awareness is a vital step in addressing the crisis.

The Bucks County Courier Times has highlighted addiction and the nation’s drug epidemic this year in an ongoing investigation into potential solutions. For the latest story, the outlet reached out to Dr. Michael W. Shore, MD, leader of Malvern Treatment Center’s medication assistance recovery program in Cherry Hill, to gain valuable insight into the issue:

The brain’s reward system is designed to naturally release dopamine, a chemical responsible for certain feelings and sensations, after activities such as eating. But according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, opioids cause the system to release much larger amounts, resulting in stronger feelings of pleasure and sometimes euphoria.

“There are many people that will say they tried (the opioid painkiller) Percocet, for example, and they could not stand the way it made them feel. But others will say things like, ‘The first time I took something I was in love.’ It’s that powerful,” said Shore, the former president of the New Jersey Society of Addiction Medicine and now the director of the American Society of Addiction Medicine region that includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio.

People who regularly use opioids, even those prescribed for pain, will develop physical dependence as the brain adapts to them, Shore said, but only some will go on to develop substance use disorder.

Those people want to experience the feelings again and again, and they have a compulsive need to use more and more, regardless of the consequences, according to the NIDA.

“After a while, it doesn’t cause euphoria anymore,” Shore said. “They continue to use to feel normal, to avoid withdrawal.”

Malvern Treatment Centers: We Give Hope

If you or a loved one are living with addiction, we can help. Learn about Malvern Intervention Services or the Malvern Model Of Care by calling 610.MALVERN (610.625.8376).

Read the full story from the Bucks County Courier Times.

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