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

The new buyout barons

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Last month I wrote that SPACs are the new IPOs. But I may have understated it, because SPACs are also becoming the new private equity.

By the numbers: Short for "special purpose acquisition company," SPACs have raised $24 billion so far in 2020, with a loaded pipeline of upcoming offerings. U.S. buyout firms raised nearly $102 billion through the end of June — a much larger amount, but not so much larger that the two can't play on the same field.

3 hours ago - World

Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

3 hours ago - Sports

The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.