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People with Heroin Addiction Have Neurological Traits Similar to People with Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent report has established an astonishing fact – that people who are suffering from an addiction to heroin have a similar neurological and chemical make up within their brain as people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This could mean that treatments that have been studied with the aim of improving the condition of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers could be used to reduce the psychological and physical impulses of people who repeatedly administer heroin to their own bodies.

The study has been conducted by a team of scientists and researchers in Mount Sinai, New York. The findings of the study have been published in a report written by Yasmin Hurd, PhD of The Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai and the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

People Experiencing Heroin Addiction Over Produce a Normally Balanced Protein Called Tau

This study has revealed that people who are addicted to heroin undergo alterations in the expression of a gene called Fyn. One of the jobs within the human body of this gene is to regulate the production of a protein known as Tau. Tau proteins are commonly found within the neurons of the central nervous system, maintaining the stability of axons, which are fibers that connect cells to synaptic terminals. Axons act to transmit information between neurons within the brain and muscles and glands. They also transmit sensory information such as warmth (or the lack of), flavors, smells and sound.

When people are suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, their levels of Tau are highly elevated. This inhibits the normal functioning of cells as the Tau proteins clump together and detach from the microtubules within an axon. The microtubules fall apart and disintegrate, which means the axons fail. People with Alzheimer’s disease lose their normal brain functioning because of these failings.

Tau Over Production Can be Reversed with Treatments for People Addicted to Heroin

The Mount Sinai findings indicate that people suffering from heroin addiction also experience the elevation of Tau proteins. However, such changes are epigenetic in that they are brought about by behavior and environment. This means – with treatment – that these changes can be reversed. The changes with people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease are not epigenetic, and cannot be reversed.

The study has indicated that treatments designed to slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s disease could also be applied to heroin addicts to improve their brain functioning and to reduce their cravings for other opioids. It also indicates that long-term heroin users could be more prone to  neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Learn More About Receiving Help for Opioid Addiction

If you would like to learn how we here at Advanced Rapid Detox could help you to free yourself from a reliance on opioids, including heroin, please contact us at (800) 603-1813, or via our online contact form.