Scientists Explore Overlapping Treatments for Addiction

Scientists Explore Overlapping Treatments for Addiction

As addiction can be all-consuming for the individual with the problem, health care professionals are consistently on the look out for new treatments that can have an impact. In a recent Associated Press piece, the author examined the potential of a once-a-month alcoholism shot to prevent heroin addicts from relapsing.

Also suggested as potential treatments: a drug that wakes up narcoleptics to treat cocaine addiction and an old antidepressant to fight methamphetamine. As health care professionals continue to examine addiction and how it overlaps with other brain diseases, the hunt is on for the possibility that a treatment for one addiction may also help another.

The difference now is that taking this type of approach is no longer bent on blocking an addict’s high. Instead, the goal is to change the underlying brain circuitry that will leave a substance abuser prone to relapse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow, it is a different way of looking at mental illnesses – including substance abuse disorders. Dr. Volkow urged researchers at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting to get more creative in the quest for brain-changing therapies for addiction.

Scientists today are viewing psychiatric diseases as the result of circuits that are dysfunctional and spread over multiple regions. In this state, the circuits are unable to properly communicate and work together. This approach disrupts the balance between impulsivity and self-control that plays a crucial role in addiction.

NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health, is calling for additional research into treatments designed to target circuits involved with cognitive control, better decision-making and resistance to impulses.
 

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