Using Science to Treat Addiction
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, more than 200,000 deaths occur around the world every year as a result of drug usage, including overdoses and illnesses such as HIV. Nearly one out of every 20 adults worldwide can be classified as alcoholics.
“In the United States, the opioid epidemic continues to worsen. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 33,091 deaths due to opioid overdoses—16 percent higher than the record set the year before.”
Additionally, as a response to the substance abuse crisis, the first U.S. surgeon general’s addiction report was released in November 2016. The report stated that 21 million Americans have a drug or alcohol addiction.
Not only does addiction negatively affect physical health, work or family life, but it also causes a literal change in brain anatomy by disrupting pathways necessary for habit forming, emotional regulation and pleasure, to name a few. “In a sense, addiction is a pathological form of learning,” said Antonello Bonci, a neurologist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Dr. Luigi Gallimberti and neurocognitive psychologist Alberto Terraneo teamed up with Bonci to test a new treatment technique: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which alters electrical activity in the brain. They recruited a group of cocaine addicts, 16 of which underwent one month of TMS therapy and 13 of which received standard care. By the end of the trial, 11 people from the first group and only three in the second group were drug-free.
“It has been a complete change,” said Patrick Perotti, an addict also underwent the TMS treatment. “I feel a vitality and desire to live that I had not felt for a long time.”
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Read the full story at NationalGeographic.com