Two distinct neural pathways may make opioids like fentanyl so addictive

Fentanyl’s powerful pull comes from both the potent, rapid euphoria people feel while on the drug and the devastating symptoms of withdrawal. Researchers have now zeroed in on brain circuits responsible for these two forces of fentanyl addiction.

The study in mice, reported May 22 in Nature, suggests two distinct brain pathways are in play.

“Addiction is not a simple disorder — it’s very complex and dynamic,” says Mary Kay Lobo, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore who was not involved with the new research. She appreciates that the study looks not only at reward in the brain, but also at the withdrawal

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