Missing Enzyme Linked To Drug Addiction

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Opioid addiction is one of the more serious drug addictions in the world: it causes deeply-rooted physical dependencies and cravings, painful) withdrawal symptoms, and higher chances of overdose, hospitalization and death.

In short, these are the results of using a so-called "pain-relieving" drug. It comes from the opium plant, which basically does a good job at intercepting signals that relay messages of pain between the nerves that normally receive them. The feeling is an experience of utter pleasure and euphoria, but is never recommended under any circumstance. Tolerance builds quickly, and after its effects wear off, users crash emotionally and physically. However, animal studies suggest that a missing brain enzyme increases concentrations of a protein involved with opioid addiction. What does this mean?

This means that when the brain lacks a certain "missing" enzyme called prohormone convertase 2, also known as PC2, it tends to yield higher concentrations of morphine in the system, leading to addiction or dependency in mice. However, mice that were not given this missing enzyme were less prone to becoming dependent. The study observes the effect of PC2 elimination, to test how its absence affects susceptibility in pain-killer addiction. According to the lead author of the study, "This raises the possibility that Pc-2 derived peptides may be involved in some of the addiction parameters related to morphine." Other studies strongly suggest that PC2 levels increase after prolonged morphine intake, which verifies its strong involvement with severe addiction or dependency.

it's important to remember that "natural pain-relievers" are produced in the human body, where opioid activity is regulated to be balanced, involuntary, and not heavily manipulated by external factors. An example of natural painkillers can be felt during the climax of exercise, where the endorphins kick in and results in a "runner's high." The body reaches a level of intense euphoric. This relates to addiction because when someone uses opioids, this alters or interferes with the brain's normal course of achieving balance. The naturally produced opioids get pushed to the side and there is a complete overhaul of opioids. Such conditions make it difficult to normalize the brain's functioning. However, hopefully ongoing scientific studies continue to work toward a better understanding of opioid addiction for treatment purposes.

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