Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An anti-addiction pill?

"Last month, the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was host to a conference about addiction for a small, invitation-only crowd of neuroscientists, clinicians and public policy makers. It was an unusual gathering. Addiction conferences are usually sober affairs, but M.I.T. offered a lavish cocktail reception (with an open bar, no less). More important, the conference was a celebration of the new ways scientists and addiction researchers are conceptualizing, and seeking to treat, addiction.

"While many in the treatment field have long called addiction a 'disease,' they've used the word in vague and metaphorical ways, meaning everything from a disease of the mind to a disease of the spirit. Many assumed that an addict suffers from a brain-chemistry problem, but scientists had not been able to peer into our heads to begin to prove it.

"Now they can, using advances in brain-imaging technology. And they tend to agree on what they see, although not necessarily on how to fix it: addiction — whether to alcohol, to drugs or even to behaviors like gambling — appears to be a complicated disorder affecting brain processes responsible for motivation, decision making, pleasure seeking, inhibitory control and the way we learn and consolidate information and experiences. This new research, in turn, is fueling a vast effort by scientists and pharmaceutical companies to develop medications and vaccines to treat addiction ..."
Amherst Times

Lid dip to Chris Keeley.

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