People get addicted to opioids. Too addicted. That’s a given. People also get addicted to shellfish. Though that’s a whole lot rarer. But have you ever heard of shellfish getting addicted to opioids?

Not likely. And it’s not likely to happen either. Why? Because shellfish don’t have livers, so they can’t metabolize opioids, that’s why. And a damn good thing that they don’t. Otherwise certain seafood lovers might end up becoming addicted to opioids by osmosis.

That’s right. Bay mussels in Washington’s Puget Sound have tested positive for oxycodone. So says the Puget Sound Institute anyway. And they should know. PSI has been seriously charting what’s in the waters for nearly a decade.

Okay, so Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the doses of oxycodone found in the mussels were very low. In fact, way too low to get you high if you did eat those shellfish. But still.

It’s not the first time critters in Puget Sound have been hopped up on something or another. According to NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, the salmon are also on drugs. And not just any drugs either. But a medicine chest of name brands, including Paxil, Valium, Prozac and Zoloft. Puget Sound salmon have even tested positive for cocaine. Really.

Fish Dig Drugs Too

Fish seem to dig drugs too. A University of Utah Health study showed that zebrafish, given the choice, would dose themselves with hydrocodone. even when doing so required them to put themselves in risky conditions. Further, 48 hours after the last exposure, opioid-conditioned fish showed signs of anxiety, a hallmark of withdrawal.

In case you're wondering, Zebrafish share 70 percent of genes with people and also share similar biological pathways that lead to addiction. Like people, they have a m-opioid receptor and two neurotransmitters, dopamine and glutamate, that trigger the natural reward system in the brain.

Furthermore, conditioned zebrafish treated with naloxone, a drug that blocks the m-opioid receptor, as well as dopamine- or glutamate-blockers, reduced their drug-seeking behavior during the experiments. Researchers are now using their zebrafish model system to search for new therapeutics that could block drug-seeking behavior among humans.

Back to our opioid-lapping shellfish. Scientists have not studied whether mussels are harmed by oxycodone. However, the presence of this drug in the mollusk speaks to the high number of people in the urban areas surrounding the Puget Sound who still take this medication.

The question isn’t Are shelfish getting addicted to opioids? It’s are opioid addicts contaminating the shellfish?

We at Recovery Boot Camp don't need a Magic 8-Ball to see All signs point to Yes.

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