January 21

Addiction Studies | MRI Technology Used to Study the Brain of Heroin Addicts (The Brain is Hijacked)


Recent advancements in addiction research have been made possible, to a great degree, by addiction studies like the one that is underway at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction. They are using magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) to observe how addiction on the brain works. And, the results of the study are providing a wealth of information.

MRI Used Addiction Studies
The MRI is being used in addiction studies with heroin addicts.

The technology allows researchers to determine what is happening with the brain’s reward center when an addictive substance or behavior is active. And, once we understand how the brain is affected, we can mimic that affect in a healthier way…eliminating the physical component of cravings.

MRI Used in Addiction Studies Reveals How Addiction on the Brain Works

By watching how regions of the brain react to drug-related photos, or cues, researchers believe they can predict which addicts will succeed with certain treatments and which will relapse – a hypothesis that shatters the stubborn misconception that conquering addiction is solely a matter of “willpower.”

“You can be a fortuneteller,” said Anna Rose Childress, a psychologist who directs the center’s cocaine-related MRI research. “But it’s not just knowledge. It’s not just pretty brain pictures. It’s hope.”

The goal is to use the research to develop more effective treatments and, perhaps eventually, personalized medicine tailored to each addict’s mental strengths and vulnerabilities, which are shaped by genetics, life experiences and drug use.

They are trying, in other words, to find a cure for addiction.


Addictive behaviors and substances interrupt the brain’s production of hormones that are required to manage pain and “feel good”. Amino acid therapy is being used successfully in addiction recovery to replace the hormone imbalance and stimulate the brain to, once again, begin producing the necessary hormones naturally. They key is understanding exactly which hormones are required and in what combination the amino acids should be supplemented. Addiction studies like this one are providing that information.

And, once we understand exactly where the breakdown is occurring, we know what it will take to re-establish the body’s normal reward system. With the right mix of hormones at work and doing their job again, beating addiction is made much easier. There are addiction treatment centers successfully using this approach now.

This is really important work that is advancing our options for fighting addiction. Please comment, like and share so that more people are asking the right questions when it comes to treatment options.


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