What happens in the body (or the brain) before an opiate (including heroin) addict has the urge to use again?
key insights
  • Opiate abuse causes changes in the structure and function of the brain and as a result, addicts face difficulty in remaining abstinent without seeking professional help.
  • The prefrontal cortex system is involved in cue-induced drug reinstatement, storing lasting memories that associates the pleasure with the circumstances where the drug was taken, driving the addict to continue to seek opiates.
  • Levels of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), the neurotransmitter that regulates the stress hormone system, usually increases in addicts right before a relapse and the amygdala becomes more active.