Help For Addicts

There is an interesting article on CNN Health about new medications to help treat addictions. It’s well worth the read for anyone who has dealt with addictions or knows someone with an addiction problem. This new treatment sounds promising.

However, one statement in the story caught me up short:

These findings highlight what’s become increasingly clear: Addiction is a brain disease, not just a failure of willpower.

Are there still people who don’t realize that? It has been scientifically proven for decades that addiction is an illness, not a human weakness. Sure, it does take some strength of character to acknowledge the illness and seek help, but it is still an illness.

The article describes two drugs that have been used successfully to curb the urge to drink. The drugs, naltrexone and topiramate, block the release of brain chemicals that are linked to pleasure., and people in the research study known as COMBINE report that they no longer even have the urge to drink.

Traditional rehab programs such as AA and Betty Ford advocate behavioral therapy combined with a spiritual component but don’t use drugs. Experts there say the drug therapy doesn’t address all those component, so maybe a combination of approaches would have the most success.

Whatever path is chosen by an addict, it is important that the people he or she meets along that path treat understand the disease and treat the patient with dignity.

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