(Workbook Page 71)
Review the text on page 71 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook. It describes the way the brain uses endorphins on opioid receptors to reduce pain, fear and stress. They also regulate mood, motivation and reward. Endorphins enhance pleasure, exercise, sexual activity, excitement and love. Because of their ability to suppress pain and enhance pleasure, endorphins are highly involved in survival. They are located throughout the brain. Endorphins are short lived substances, breaking down relatively quickly after being produced, activated and released. The endorphin system is the reason we have opioid receptors. Opioid medications substitute for endorphins. They are much longer acting and they suppress the body’s endorphin system. One of the problems of this suppression is that it interferes with the important role of endorphins regulating the transition between pain and pleasure. It is by the very nature of endorphins being short lived substances, responding to increases and decreases of opioid receptors, that they regulate our experience of pain and pleasure. When they are replaced with opioid medications, the call and response of this system is lost. Instead the action of opioids involves more constant coverage of opioid receptors. While opioids reduce pain, they also reduce the availability and flexibility of a system that is involved in mood control, motivation and reward. The design of the body’s endorphin system exploits the temporary nature of endorphin activity, a design that is lost when opioids provide blanket coverage for extended periods of time.