What Brain Science Tells Us About Opioids, Cocaine - Methamphetamine and Marijuana

4:00 PM
5:15 PM


Drugs of abuse stimulate their own taking, create a sense of craving or wanting, and left unchecked often undermine health and survival. Since 1975, I have studied heroin and other opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, cigarettes, marijuana, and alcohol. With my colleagues at Yale University School of Medicine, University of Florida, and now Washington University in St Louis we have looked at how drugs hijack and also change the brain. The COVID19 pandemic has changed drug availability (less heroin and more fentanyl) and access to naloxone rescues by EMTs and Emergency Rooms. We update what we know in 2021 on the brain and behavior effects of drugs of abuse in the context of the pandemic with more synthetics, more behavioral and psychiatric consequences, and disease and less access to care. 

Learning Objectives

1) Review how drugs of abuse cause euphoria, craving, liking, wanting and addictions.  

2) Explain the neuroscience paradox of why drugs of abuse are taken to produce a high, but end up causing depression, despair, and anhedonia. 

3) Put substance use disorders and overdose deaths in the context of deaths of despair and the coronavirus pandemic.

31st Annual National Leadership Forum & SAMHSA's 17th Prevention Day


Mark S. Gold, M.D.