Long-term use of anything is going to force your brain to make adjustments just to keep you feeling “normal.” So when new chemicals are introduced to your brain, your brain makes up for it by slowing down or stopping its own natural production of those chemicals. This is how addiction is developed. We’ve outlined how addiction looks in your brain, how MAT works to correct this, and how recovery is sustained. See the infographics below to understand more specifically the Biology of Addiction and Recovery.
What makes opiate addiction unique and so difficult to manage is where opiate receptors are found in the brain. The “survival” section of your brain—the part that tells you to eat and drink to stay alive—is also the area affected by opiates. Opiate addiction specifically (and successfully) convinces your brain that you need opiates to survive. Once you’ve reached this stage of physical dependence, if you try to stop using you will experience withdrawal symptoms similar to what you would experience if you tried to go without food or water. This reality—the strength of the opiate addiction—is what led to the Opioid Epidemic.