MAY 17, 2017 3:05 PM PDT

How do Opioids Work in the Brain?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

According to 2012 data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids. Addiction dramatically increases the risks for overdose, and the CDC estimates that every 19 minutes, someone dies from exactly that - accidental overdose.

Stopping opioid use isn't so simple, especially when the drug is notoriously excellent at relieving pain. But what's the mechanism of action behind opioids? Once the compound enters the body, it attaches to opioid receptors in the brain. Binding to these receptors flood the brain with dopamine, which produces a euphoric effect that alleviates pain.

Watch the video to learn what we know about opioids, and what we still have yet to find out!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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