FEB 23, 2016 12:08 PM PST

The Science Behind Withdrawal Misery

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Addictive substances can be as dangerous as opioids or heroin, or as commonplace as alcohol or caffeine. Though the effects of these drugs are different, they all have the potential to cause addiction through triggering neurotransmitter release and altering how the brain functions. With regular exposure, the brain builds up a tolerance to these substances, which is partly why the body can react so violently if the substance is taken away in a flash.

Withdrawal syndrome is the body's response when a frequently-used drug is suddenly removed from the system. Symptoms of withdrawal can be very physical, manifesting as nausea, sweating, shaking, and even hallucinations. These unpleasant side effects can come within hours and can last for as long as months, making it extremely difficult to quit these substances, especially for opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Watch the video to learn how the brain's compensation system plays a big role in addiction and withdrawal.
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.
You May Also Like
MAY 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
Seabirds Often Deal with Thieves When Scouting for Food
MAY 19, 2020
Seabirds Often Deal with Thieves When Scouting for Food
In the bird world, parental units will often split responsibilities. One typically stays behind at the nest to protect t ...
MAY 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
The Pistol Shrimp's Secret Weapon...
MAY 24, 2020
The Pistol Shrimp's Secret Weapon...
Pistol shrimp have a unique reputation as one of the ocean’s most intriguing crustaceans. Most are only about the ...
JUN 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What Will it Take to Photograph a Black Hole's Photon Ring?
JUN 16, 2020
What Will it Take to Photograph a Black Hole's Photon Ring?
Just over a year ago, astronomers tapped into the power of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio t ...
JUN 26, 2020
Neuroscience
Artificial and Natural Neurons Communicate Using Dopamine
JUN 26, 2020
Artificial and Natural Neurons Communicate Using Dopamine
Researchers from Stanford University have shown that artificial neurons can communicate with biological neurons with dop ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
JUL 13, 2020
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
The moon may have hosted an ocean of magma for 200 million years according to new findings- considerably longer than pre ...
JUL 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
JUL 18, 2020
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
New images from the Solar Orbiter, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that launched in Feb ...
Loading Comments...