Before Reading the Article:
What Do You Know About Opioids and the National Opioid epidemic?
Do you know someone affected by the opioid epidemic?
Scroll through the article and look at the attached pictures. What story do these pictures tell about opioid addiction?
Now read the article " Heroin addiction explains: How opioids kidnap the brain " and answer the following questions:
1. The article begins dramatically: "The opioid epidemic devastates America." What evidence does the author provide to support this statement? Do you think this claim is justified?
2. According to the author, why do people start using opioids? What are endorphins? What role do they play in addiction? Explain the statement: "A drug like heroin creates a tidal wave in the brain's reward circuits."
3. How do opioids rewire the brain's circuits? How do they cause pleasure and reward cycles to tip over?
4. The article says, "You may not find out that you are physically dependent until you first experience a retreat." What is payout? What are their common effects? How does withdrawal and fear of withdrawal make opioid addiction so strong?
5. Why do some treatment centers promote abstinence while others provide medication? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches?
6. How long does treatment normally take? Why is recovery so difficult? According to the article, why is relapse so common?
7. The article says about the addiction phase: “It makes no sense, but this compulsion takes over all logic, judgment and self-interest. You can do things you never thought you could do. Sell your body. Give up your child. Steal from your mother. You could lose your job. Lose your home Lose your loved ones. “Explain in your own words why opioids can cause a user to lose judgment. Do you think addiction frees users from responsibility for their actions?
Finally, tell us more about your opinion:
– What information from the article, if available, surprises you? Why? Has your view of opioid use and addiction changed?
– Return to the illustrations depicting the stages of opioid use. How has your understanding of the images changed by reading the article? Pick one and explain how it illustrates a particular stage of opioid use.
– Does the article change your understanding and feelings about opioid users? If yes how? In the article, choose a quote from an opioid user that impressed you. Explain why.
– Dr. Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, one of the best opioid researchers in the country, says that this work gives the epidemic "an emotional understanding" without "glorifying or simplifying it". Why is an emotional understanding of opioid use important? Do you think that the New York Times article targets Dr. Mateu Gelabert reached? Why or why not?