Study Shows Normalization of Reward System in Addicts

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Study Shows Normalization of Reward System in Addicts

A study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine states that an addict’s natural reward system of the brain may begin to normalize a few months into recovery. The study was done by Scott C. Bunce, PhD, of Penn State University College of Medicine.

When addicts are using drugs on a regular basis, their brain cells are disrupted and their reward system goes out of whack. They don’t experience the same pleasure to stimuli as non-addicts, and may only experience pleasure from their drug of choice. Even when an addict comes off the drugs, it takes a good amount of time for that reward system to normalize. The further an addict is in recovery, the more normal their reward system becomes.

The study was done on 14 patients, split up into two groups of seven. Each patient was in residential treatment for dependence on opioid pain medication. One group had just gone through withdrawal, while the other had been in extended care for up to three months.

Researchers then conducted studies on each group to test the reward system. They showed patients pictures of things that should produce heightened responses, like pictures of good food, drugs, or friends having fun together. Those who had just gone through detox had heightened responses to pictures of pills, but lower responses to the normal pictures, like food and friends. However, the people further into recovery had the opposite response. They had heightened responses to the pictures of food and friends, and a lower response to the pictures of drugs.

This study solidifies the fact that addiction treatment is beneficial to addicts. It is possible to get your body back in order if you seek help in doing so.

Call us today to learn more about our programs, at 800.761.7575. At Seabrook, we are ready to help you or your loved one make a new beginning.