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6 large-scale brain networks reveal impairments during drug addiction
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6 large-scale brain networks reveal impairments during drug addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disorder described by obsessive or irrepressible drug seeking behavior that changes one’s cognition and emotional processes. While past studies on drug addiction considered mostly the reward system of the drug, a recent research has revealed that cognitive and emotional damage back the beginning, acceleration and maintenance of the addiction cycle and relapse. The study identified brain regions explicitly connected with psychological processes connecting cravings and substance use.

Unfortunately, addiction to prescription opioids has touched epidemic magnitudes in the United States. Deaths due to opioid overdose have increased five times since 1999, killing more than 200,000 people till 2016. Manifested by clinical and behavioral symptoms like indulgence in drugs, withdrawal and longing that triggers drug use regardless of adverse consequences, drug addiction leaves a long-lasting impression on a person.

Drug addiction and impairments

The researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) conducted a systematic review of over 100 studies on neuroimaging, published since 2010, to identify the association between impairments in particular brain networks and drug exposure. The study was conducted to update a previous model of Impaired Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution (iRISA). The model was proposed in 2002 by Dr. Rita Goldstein, director, Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions, a research program at the ISMMS.

iRISA proposed that impairments in the neuropsychological functions, including response inhibition and salience attribution and their underlying neural substrates, contribute to the cycle of addiction. The recent study found that while performing various tasks, there were constant impairments in six large-scale brain networks. Individuals addicted to drugs showed an increased involvement of the brain networks responsible for inhibitory control, decision-making and social-emotional processing. Conversely, brains were involved less when the individual performed non-drug related tasks. These findings reiterated the iRISA model.

Brain behaves differently to different stimuli

Impairments in two other brain networks not explored in the iRISA model were also found. These were related to self-directed or referential cognitive processes and multi-cue memory and learning. Multiple neuroimaging modalities including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalogram (EEG) and derived event-related potentials, positron emission tomography (PET) and neuropsychological testing were used in the model to discover the fundamental neurobiology of addiction and the drug and drug-related cues that caused the shift to extreme salience.

The study proposed that the brain reacted differently to different stimuli irrespective of addiction to drugs. Systematic examination of large-scale brain networks can provide novel insights into psychiatric and neurological disorders. Past studies have shown that deficits in access, engagement and disengagement of neurocognitive networks had a significant role in treating mental disorders like schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, dementia and autism.

Drug addiction – a menace

Reinstating normal functioning of brain networks can help encourage abstinence from drug use in large populations. The drug menace has affected both men and women across the United States. An addiction affects men and women differently. Therefore, when seeking treatment for drug addiction in women, it is essential that personalized care is sought from opioid abuse treatment centers for women.

Sovereign Health offers all-inclusive and customized addiction treatment programs to patients with drug use disorders. We understand that women may fall into the trap of addiction due to diverse circumstances. However, our holistic treatment programs that combine detox, behavioral therapies and medications offer effective and long-term recovery from addiction in a safe and secure environment. For more information on our opioid abuse treatment for women, call at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our representative.

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