Document Type

Student Research Paper


Fall 2015

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Thomas E. Hagan


There are dozens of different opioids available, and each one has a unique structure that allows it to produce specific responses in the body. Some of these drugs even produce responses that can help treat recovering addicts. Since each opioid behaves a little differently, many different options are available for opiate addiction treatment. Agonists can stop withdrawal symptoms without producing the euphoric highs. At the same time, agonists work to stabilize the body’s functions and return them to their pre-addiction levels. Methadone is a common agonist treatment that can decrease an addict’s tolerance to heroin or other opiates. Antagonists can block the effects if any further opiates are injected. Naltrexone is used to condition addicts, so they stop associating heroin with highs. While the various opioid structures provide a wide array of treatment options, it also means that each treatment has its own disadvantages. Therefore, it is supposed that the most effective addiction treatments combine the effects of agonists and antagonists. Buprenorphine is an agonist and a partial antagonist. It combines the two treatment methods to provide a more comprehensive recovery process by conserving important cognitive functioning.


FYS100HC: Gotta Have It: Exploring the Science of Addiction; Awarded an honorable mention for the 2015-2016 Anna Carper Awards