Addiction research unlocks the hope for new treatments
Luigi Gallimberti is a psychiatrist and toxicologist who has treated addiction for 30 years, and runs a clinic in Padua, Italy. Frustrated by traditional treatments, he decided to try a new procedure called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This approach, based on new insights about the mechanisms of addiction, helps to reset how the brain processes signals. The initial results have been nothing short of incredible.
Medications can help people quit drinking, smoking, or using heroin, but relapse is common, and there’s no effective medical remedy for addiction to stimulants like cocaine. “It’s very, very difficult to treat these patients,” he says.
Another researcher at the NIH describes the core problem of addiction – “In a sense, addiction is a pathological form of learning.”
Fortunately, the new TMS approach seems to be getting results for a range of addictions.
One patient, 28-year-old Nathan Abels, explains the power of combining advanced technology with counseling and support.
I forever thought of drinking as a weakness,” he says. “There’s so much power in understanding it’s a disease.”
He’s throwing everything that his medical center offers at his recovery—medication, psychotherapy, support groups, and electromagnetic zaps to the head. “The brain can rebuild itself,” he says. “That’s the most amazing thing.”
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To learn more about the latest in addiction research and treatments, please visit National Geographic, or call the number below to see if these new approaches could work for you.