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Edward Schreiber: Brain research aids understanding of addiction


Friday, June 16, 2017
Research about brain aids understanding of addiction

I was one of the speakers at the extraordinary event held Thursday night in Northampton to address the opioid crisis, and I want to clarify a point I made (“Community key in opioid fight,” June 16).

The “culture of hopelessness,” which the Gazette reported that I spoke of, is related to what happens with addiction: hopelessness both for the person and often for those who surround and care, such as family.

The great hope is that we are on the verge of significant steps in understanding both the nature of addiction and the neurobiology of recovery. As a culture we have made strides in understanding the brain and its capacity to change and grow, what is called neuroplasticity.

Through our sciences, we understand that the brain is able to produce chemicals that impact our feelings, our sense of ourselves, of life, and well-being. Much research is taking place around the country on this facet of the brain.

My work is to match this research on the brain’s ability to develop and heal with the nature of addiction and recovery. It’s a terrible situation with so many of our friends and neighbors suffering from this condition, but we are just a few steps away from advancing treatment, prevention, and education, based upon brain science.

Edward Schreiber

Amherst

The writer is director of outpatient substance use services at ServiceNet.