Last week I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Glen Hansen, director of NIDA’s Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research. He is a leading expert on drug abuse and spoke of the neurological effects of drug use in his presentation. It was fascinating to hear about the different study methods to test neurotransmission, levels of dopamine, etc. One of his main points was that drug abuse is a DISEASE.
“An addict can no more stop their behavior than a Parkinson’s patient can stop their shaking”
With drug abuse, the brain changes. Addicts report that the things that used to bring them natural joy or pleasures are now dimmed or don’t have the same effect. Dr. Hanson talked about how shutting a drug addict in jail is not the proper way to “cure”. By studying how drugs effect the brain, hopefully better treatment strategies will emerge. For now, I think prevention is KEY.
To learn more about challenges and issues in addition from Dr. Hanson, visit http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/issues/.
Dr. Hanson also talks about how genetics are an important
factor in addiction. Different people are more susceptible or vulnerable to different types of addiction. He questions an advantage to genetic testing so an individual can know what to especially take caution with.
“Just because you are prone to addiction doesn’t mean you’re going to become addicted. It just means you’ve got to be careful.”
To learn about this topic visit the following site: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/genetics/