Although opioids and sugar are two substances that are miles apart to each other’s intended use, researchers have found a common link between the two and that unlikely link is addiction.
With the current body of research that we have, we now know that there is an element of addiction associated with sugar consumption since it plays on the reward system of the brain much like how addictive drugs do. According to the research done by the University of Guelph in Canada, refined sugar consumption can predispose people to develop opioid addiction and overdose.
To find out whether the two substances are related, researchers used HFCS or high fructose corn syrup in rats to monitor behavioral responses to the opioid oxycodone. Oxycodone is a highly addictive pain reliever which uses has skyrocketed a staggering 500 percent in the span of 1999 to 2011. In fact, the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 27.9 million aged 12 or older use oxycodone. With that being said, it is understandable why the researchers singled out oxycodone for the study.
The findings suggest that the rats who were given HFCS should a dampened brain reward center response to opioid requiring a high dose to elicit a response. This can be interpreted as a reason on how a history of refined sugar consumption can cause a person to use opioids in higher and more dangerous doses. In addition to the dampening effect, it was also determined that the consumption of refined sugar reduced the psychomotor effects associated with oxycodone. This includes sociability, talkativeness, and interest in new things.
The study concluded that chronic exposure to high fructose corn syrup can directly influence drug taking and drug seeking behavior in those using oxycodone.
Sugar in the diet may increase risks of opioid addiction
Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States:
Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
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