Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Addiction recast as manageable disease

Date:
June 9, 2014
Source:
The Kavli Foundation
Summary:
The societal scourge of addiction is a case of good evolution gone bad in modern contexts, but scientists are closing in on new biomedical interventions. A group of addiction researchers recommended that the problem of substance use disorders should be approached as a medical, not a legal, issue. In this vein, New York City's police department has begun to equip its officers with naloxone, a medication that can be used to save lives in the event of a heroin overdose. Results are discussed in a subsequent report.

Neuroscientists agree that abuse of drugs hijacks circuits in the brain that are crucial for decision-making, but society as a whole tends to stigmatize addicted people for lacking self-control. Slowly but steadily, scientists say, they are making important progress in changing the perception of addiction as they identify new therapeutic interventions that could render addiction into the equivalent of a manageable disease like diabetes.

Related Articles


A group of addiction researchers, for one, recently recommended to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, that the problem of substance use disorders -- a term that refers to what most people think of as addiction -- should be approached as a medical, not a legal, issue. In this vein, New York City's police department has begun to equip its officers with naloxone, a medication that can be used to save lives in the event of a heroin overdose. What have scientists discovered about addiction that led them to consider it as a disease rather than due to users' lack of willpower?

In a "roundtable" discussion convened by the Kavli Foundation, Marina Picciotto, Charles B.G. Murphy Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University in New Haven, CT, and a member of Yale's Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, put it this way: "Drugs of abuse change the brain in a significant way such that decision making is permanently, or at least on a fairly long-term basis, impaired. And therefore free will as we know it is not gone, but it is so severely modulated that someone who is not addicted has a hard time understanding that loss of volitional control."

The stigma directed toward drug addicts is similar to the stigma that surrounds those who are obese. Research on both substance use disorders and obesity shows that the biology behind the two diseases overlaps, resulting in a change in the sensitivity of the reward systems in the brain to food and drugs of abuse. "That overlap makes a lot of sense, because these circuits did not evolve for us to take drugs," said Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. "These circuits evolved to ensure that we eat properly. What we are seeing in addiction are drugs literally hijacking systems that took millions of years of evolution. And that's why there is no surprise that we see so many similarities in the behavioral expression of compulsive overeating and loss of control and that associated with compulsive drug taking in addicted individuals."

Currently, there are a handful of pharmacological treatments for people addicted to heroin, alcohol and nicotine. Needed are new therapies to treat not only these addictions, but also addictions to substances of abuse such as cocaine and methamphetamine. It is a lament among many addiction scientists that the pipeline for new pharmacological treatments remains all but dry. "We have a paradoxical situation in which we have identified a large number of potentially very interesting molecular targets for medication development and yet pharma is not investing," says Volkow. "So, despite the great potential to reduce the burden of disease nationally and globally, the relative investments for medication development are really embarrassingly low."

Even so, there remains reason for optimism, according to Eric J. Nestler, Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. "If you turn the clock back 50 or 60 years to a time before antidepressants were introduced, no one in the field would have expected such robust chemical treatments of depression," Nestler said during the roundtable discussion. "So even though some people are skeptical today about medicines for treating addiction, we should be very optimistic that we will see the day when effective treatments will be available."

More information can be found at: http://www.kavlifoundation.org/science-spotlights/addiction-can-the-brain-control-uncontrollable-urges#.U5dJRy-XvJx


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Kavli Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Kavli Foundation. "Addiction recast as manageable disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609161739.htm>.
The Kavli Foundation. (2014, June 9). Addiction recast as manageable disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609161739.htm
The Kavli Foundation. "Addiction recast as manageable disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609161739.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins