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Associated Press

Technology and science has made it much easier to become addicted to products that allow us to ingest nicotine and opioids, but neuroscience can be just as easily harnessed to help the human brain cope with addiction as well, researchers argue in Science.

Their main point: Nearly all of the available treatments for opioid addiction treat it as a short-term problem with the goal of detoxing the system and coping with withdrawal symptoms. The health care system and policy support that approach, but addiction is a more lasting disorder that changes the brain. Treatment, the authors write, should be focused on long-term interventions such as support groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous), treatment with methadone or buprenorphine, "sober living" residencies and extended case monitoring.

The backdrop: On Tuesday, a presidential task force will issue recommendations for how to deal with a growing opioid epidemic that is decimating families and communities in parts of the U.S. On average, 91 people die in America every day from opioid overdoses. The NIH recently announced a research push to address the nation's opioid crisis.

What they found: Researchers looked at how technology and science has made it easier for addiction to take hold. For instance, cigarettes were once hand-rolled and harsh in the 19th century, making it hard work for someone to smoke. Now, big tobacco companies can roll 20,000 cigarettes on a factory floor in under a minute, and lace the cigarettes with flavors to make it far easier on the lungs as the smoke is inhaled. Likewise, opioids – once confined to small parts of the population – are now widespread and easily available.

But just as science has made addiction easier, it can also chart new paths away from addiction as well. As researchers better understand the ways in which addiction takes hold of our brains, programs and therapies can mute or even block the addiction pathways in our brains.

Go deeper

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the US-Mexico border wall at Friendship Park in San Ysidro, California in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.

Biden picks up his pen to change the tone on racial equity

Vice President Harris looks on as President Biden signs executives orders related to his racial equity agenda. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden is making a down payment on racial equity in a series of executive orders dealing with everything from private prisons to housing discrimination, treatment of Asian Americans and relations with indigenous tribes.

The big picture: Police reform and voting rights legislation will take time to pass in Congress. But with the stroke of his pen, one week into the job Biden is taking steps within his power as he seeks to change the tone on racial justice from former President Trump.

Most Senate Republicans join Rand Paul effort to dismiss Trump's 2nd impeachment trial

Photo: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images

Forty-five Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, supported an effort to dismiss former President Trump's second impeachment trial.

Why it matters: The vote serves as a precursor to how senators will approach next month's impeachment trial, making it highly unlikely the Senate will vote to convict. The House impeached Trump for a second time for "incitement of insurrection" following events from Jan 6. when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.