When a person develops an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, they have the opportunity to follow one of three paths:
- Continue to abuse the drug, never thinking about recovery.
- Attempt to overcome the addiction without medical assistance.
- Check into a rehabilitation facility that provides care.
More and more people are viewing addiction as a relapsing brain disorder, with David Rosenblum, an addiction expert and professor at Boston University, adding the following:
“We are making unprecedented advances in understanding the biology of addiction. And that is finally starting to push the thinking from ‘moral failing’ to ‘legitimate illness’.”
A Focus on Science
Addiction has been a nationwide epidemic for many years, costing the country billions of dollars along the way. Through the use of modern medicine, such as PET and MRI scans, scientists are learning more about the neurobiology of addiction. For example, geneticists have pinpointed gene variants that are common in people with addiction, which explains why only a small number of people who try a drug actually form an addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes the importance of focusing on the science behind addiction and treatment, which has led it to develop and test hundreds of medications that block the effects of drugs.
In the same article that included information from David Rosenblum, Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, noted how things will change over the next decade:
“In 10 years we will be treating addiction as a disease, and that means with an array of evidence-based addiction medicines in addition to evidence-based counseling therapy.”
This doesn’t mean the treatment strategies used in today’s day and age will become obsolete. What it does mean is that the way the world views an addiction is going to change. As a result, evidence-based addiction medicines will come into play, hopefully with outstanding results.
The science behind addiction treatment may be the key to helping people put this problem in their past. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, along with other agencies, are taking a proactive approach to learning more about the science of addiction, including causes of addiction as well as potential treatment strategies.