National Geographic recently had an interesting article about how scientists were using Zebrafish in order to study the addiction to drugs, specifically opiates.

I like that Randall Peterson in the article states that they are looking for drug treatments that do not use an opioid replacement therapy like Suboxone or Methadone. I can honestly say that someone trying to get off Suboxone or Methadone will have a much harder time than someone using almost all other opiates. The replacement drugs do have their positives in that it can keep users from getting caught up in the circle of constantly trying to find their opiates and the actions that come with trying to keep a heroin or oxycontin addiction in check. But, it is a heavy trade off as Suboxone and Methadone are much harder to break free from.

Let’s hope these scientist can find their way to using iboga or ibogaine in order to dispell the myth that iboga is any more dangerous than conventional therapies such as a “detox pack” addicts get from an emergency room which typically has benzodiazipines and Clonodine, or a cold turkey detox. When used correctly iboga and ibogaine or no more dangerous than other opiate detox procedures that are popular today.

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A recent study by researchers at the University of Utah shows that zebrafish, whose neurological structures are similar to humans, can also show signs of addiction to the drugs, providing possibilities for a faster way to test out new therapies that could help people who are addicted.

Randall Peterson, dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Utah, says current drug therapies involve other opioids, like methodone or buprenorphine, and they can help a person with one addiction but leave them with a second one when the treatment ends.

“There is still a compelling need for therapies that work in different ways, not just by replacing one opioid with another,” he says.

The lack of opioid addiction research has hindered scientists’ ability to develop solutions to the growing problem in the U.S. and around the world. There are currently no effective medical treatments for the drug-seeking behavior that humans develop as part of an opioid addiction, according to the paper published in Behavioral Brain Research.

For the study, the researchers used technology that allowed zebrafish in a tank to self-administer opioids. In the video above, the fish swim across the sensor on the yellow-colored platform, which detects their movements.

At first, the motion sensor activated the release of food, which was sent into the tank while a green light flashed. The fish learned that when they want food, they could swim across the platform to get it.

Then the researchers replaced the food with an opioid, still automatically triggered by the movements of the fish. Over the course of a week, their behavior in the tank became increasingly erratic as they frantically and aggressively triggered the release of more of the drug.

In addition, the fish continued to seek out the drug even when researchers gave them a consequence for using it. They made the water in the yellow-platform area shallower by raising the platform up in the tank, which should have deterred the zebrafish because of their natural aversion to shallow water, but the fish continued to return for more doses of the opioid. They also showed signs of stress and anxiety when the drug was taken away from them.

At the end of the study, researchers were able to confirm that the zebrafish who were triggering the release of the drug developed an addiction to it using the same molecular pathways as other animals. The scientists hope further study of this process will provide more insight into how those pathways work, and how they could be treated in people.

Human beings aren’t the only ones who can become addicted to opioids ( learn more about the science of addiction in our special magazine report ). A recent study by researchers at the University of Utah shows that zebrafish, whose neurological structures are similar to humans, can also show […]