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Researchers Discover Addictive Cravings Still Identifiable In The Brain After Death

Researchers Discover Addictive Cravings Still Identifiable In The Brain After Death

Author: Shernide Delva

According to a new study, addiction cravings do not go away, even after death. Researchers have discovered a “dependence memory” that could change the way we approach addiction treatment for the better.

For the first time, a study has shown addiction cravings are still identifiable in the brain even after death. The study was conducted out of the Medical University of Vienna and the results were shocking.

According to the researchers:

“A protein known as FosB in the reward center of the brain alters in chronically ill people suffering from an addictive disorder (e.g. heroin addiction).”

Over time, the protein in the addicted brain changes and remains longer in the brain than it would in its natural form. It can persist as long “as several weeks after withdrawal of the drug.” This explains why cravings persist after a person is physically detoxed from drugs or alcohol.

The study, led by Monika Seltenhammer of MedUni Vienna’s Department of Forensic Medicine, elaborated on the intensity of addiction cravings and how they are developed in the brain over time.  Researchers say  “this addictive craving is stored in a sort of ‘memory’ function and, surprisingly, can still be detected after death.” This is called “dependence memory.”

So what does all of this mean for addiction treatment?  It turns out the recent findings could have a major impact on drug addiction treatment. While researchers have known for some time the impact of addiction on the brain, these changes are now shown postmortem. Researchers theorize that these changes could last even longer in living people, perhaps as long as months.

When it comes to addiction treatment, the results from the study could have an impact on the way support is provided to those trying to manage their addiction:

“If the addictive craving persists in the brain for months, it is very important to provide protracted after-care and corresponding psychological support,” says Seltenhammer.

The outcome of the study could explain why quick detoxes in detox facilities often do not work, and why people who are released from detox may relapse even when they no longer have a physical dependence on the drugs.

We are at a crucial stage in which health care professionals and legislators are working to find the best approach to treating opioid addiction. Studies like these provide insight on how addiction affects the brains and bodies of those who suffer from them.

Each new study provides a piece to the puzzle that can hopefully allow for a fuller understanding of how to treat the disease that has baffled so many. For a long time, addiction was often stigmatized by society and the media. While there is a long journey to go to overcome these stigmas, studies conducted that proves the chemical components of addiction pave the way of changing how the world looks at addiction.

Furthermore, researchers hope to continue their work and gain a better understanding of how activation of the protein can be prevented in order to “treat the onset of addiction behavior.” Perhaps if researchers can find a way to halt the development of this addiction protein, they can discover a way to prevent the onset of addiction completely.

Only time will tell what innovation we will have in the coming decades. Addiction is one of the most misunderstood diseases out there. Studies like this take us one step further to understanding the reasoning behind this disease. It is important that stigmas behind addiction are proven false. Addiction is a disease and treatment is crucial. If you are struggling right now, understand you are not alone. It is not your fault. Treatment is crucial. Do not wait. Call now.

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