Can Repairing Your Brain’s Wiring Help You Fight Addiction?

U.S. opioid deaths are soaring as the costs of drug abuse approach $200 billion a year. Neuroscience offers new ways to fight the epidemic.

Every 25 minutes in the United States, a baby is born addicted to opioids.

That heartbreaking statistic is but one symptom of an epidemic that shows no sign of abating. The 33,000 overdose deaths from opioids in 2015 were a 16 percent rise over the previous year, which also set a record. Drug overdoses are now a leading cause of death among Americans under 50—but only part of a broader addiction landscape that ranges from drug and alcohol abuse to obsessive eating, gambling, and even sex.

For this month’s cover story, “The Addicted Brain,” we went in search of the “why.” Why do human beings get addicted to substances and behaviors we know will harm us? What can new research tell us about addiction and the brain? Most important: Can what we’re learning help more people recover?

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