In an article posted in the Salt Lake Tribune, BYU researchers as well as Canadian neuroscientists, induced drug addiction in lab rats without using actual drugs. This is a huge breakthrough, basically proving that addiction is a brain disorder and not one of willpower.
Scott Stephenson, a lead researcher on the project, provided some good feedback. "We are wired for pleasure," said Steffensen, a professor in the department of psychology. "Drugs overwhelm this system that is under tight regulation. It's a sad spiralling disregulation that takes place." By isolating a protein in the brain (known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF) that is enhanced in people struggling with addiction, they were then able to inject the protein into the rats and create the symptoms of opiate addiction.
This research opens many new directions for drug and alcohol treatment. Are we getting closer to a medical solution to addiction prevention? Maybe it's going to be possible in the future to establish blockers to these proteins that create the insatiable need for drugs and alcohol. Will it be possible to help a child with a family history of addiction to block the effects of drugs and alcohol with a simple medical treatment or prescription? I don't think that these are far off in the future.
I've been reading "The End of Overeating," by Dr. David Kessler (available here on Amazon), and in it he speaks about certain foods affecting our opiate receptors almost as much as drugs do directly. So we may also be on a path to developing further medical treatments for overeaters as well. Some doctors are already seeing progress in using naltrexone to stop the craving for carbohydrates. Dr. Richard Bernstein, in his book "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution" has published studies on the effectiveness of this method of treatment on chronic overeaters.
So it's possible that medical treatments may, in the future, be the true path to prevention and treatment. But we'll see.
Here's a video about some of the uses of naltrexone.
And here's a clip about the book, The End of Overeating:
And of course- here's something funny.
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