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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Long Term Heroin Use Changes Brain

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body; researchers continue to study the effects that drugs have on our remarkable operating system. It is well known that the brain has a remarkable ability to recover from the damages incurred from long term substance abuse; however, new research suggest that extended drug use can alter how genes are activated in the brain.

A new study has found that long term heroin use leads to changes in brain function, HealthDay reports.

Research was conducted on the brains of deceased heroin users. The area of the brain called the striatum, known to have a part in drug abuse, was focused on by researchers. It was determined that significant changes in how DNA was being used in the brain were related to heroin use. The longer one abused the drug, the greater the changes.

 “Our study addresses a critical gap in our knowledge about heroin addiction because we cannot often directly study the brains of addicted humans,” according to senior author Yasmin Hurd of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City. “Our results provide important insights into how human brains change in response to long-term heroin use, and give us the knowledge to help treat this dangerous disease.”  

The findings were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting.
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