Are We Getting High Cause the Thrill is Gone?


Kenneth Blum, Thomas Mclaughlin, Mark S. Gold, Marjorie C. Gondre-Lewis, Panayotis K. Thanos, Igor Elman, David Baron, Abdalla Bowirrat, Debamyla Barh, Jag Khalsa, Colin Hanna, Nicole Jafari, Foojan Zeine, Eric R. Braverman, Catherine Dennen, Milan T. Makale, Miles Makale, Keerthy Sunder, Kevin T. Murphy and Rajendra D. Badgaiyan



In the USA alone, opioid use disorder (OUD) affects approximately 27 million people. While the number of prescriptions may be declining due to increased CDC guidance and prescriber education, fatalities due to fentanyl-laced street heroin are still rising. Our laboratory has extended the overall concept of both substance and non-substance addictive behaviors, calling it “Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS).” Who are its victims, and how do we get this unwanted disorder? Is RDS caused by genes (Nature), environment (Neuro-epigenetics, Nurture), or both? Recent research identifies resting-state functional connectivity in the brain reward circuitry as a crucial factor. Analogously, it is of importance to acknowledge that the cumulative discharge of dopamine, governed by the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and modulated by an array of additional neurotransmitters, constitutes a cornerstone of an individual’s overall well-being. Neuroimaging reveals that high-risk individuals exhibit a blunted response to stimuli, potentially due to DNA polymorphisms or epigenetic alterations. This discovery has given rise to the idea of a diminished ‘thrill,’ though we must consider whether this ‘thrill’ may have been absent from birth due to high-risk genetic predispositions for addiction. This article reviews this issue and suggests the general concept of the importance of “induction of dopamine homeostasis.” We suggest coupling a validated genetic assessment (e.g., GARS) with pro-dopamine regulation (KB220) as one possible frontline modality in place of prescribing potent addictive opioids for OUD except for short time harm reduction. Could gene editing offer a ‘cure’ for this undesirable genetic modification at birth, influenced by the environment and carried over generations, leading to impaired dopamine and other neurotransmitter imbalances, as seen in RDS? Through dedicated global scientific exploration, we hope for a future where individuals are liberated from pain and disease, achieving an optimal state of well-being akin to the proverbial ‘Garden of Eden’.


Published on: December 08, 2023
Citation:  Blum K, Mclaughlin T, Gold MS, Gondre-Lewis MC, Thanos PK, et al. 2023. Are We Getting High Cause the Thrill is Gone? J Addict Psychiatry 7(1): 5-16.