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NPR: Addiction Is Not A Disease Of The Brain

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1


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    I thought I would throw http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/09/09/140307282/addiction-is-not-a-disease-of-the-brain" into the Lion's den, and watch, I mean read the reactions to it (and possibly contribute if it gets interesting, you never know with this crowd). Mentors, if you feel this belongs in the philosophy section feel free to move it, but I thought it would get a wider viewing and response from GD instead.
    Rhody... by the sidelines, popcorn in hand... for now...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
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  3. Sep 13, 2011 #2
    We've had over a hundred years of "talk therapy" for addiction and the success rate is still 5% at best. That alone suggests we've been taking the wrong approach to the subject out of desperation more then anything else. All this nonsense about the "dopamine reward system" merely highlights just how little we do know about the underlying neurology.

    A 150 years ago epileptics were considered to be "acting out" because there was no concrete explanation for their behavior. Before that people thought they were possessed by the devil or god. The entire history of western medicine is filled with such examples including shell shocked soldiers being treated as cowards and traitors. It is long overdue time to try a different approach and make at least the starting assumption that this is just another neurological problem.
  4. Sep 13, 2011 #3


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  5. Sep 13, 2011 #4
    That's just the beer talking.
  6. Sep 13, 2011 #5


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    So what is the question here?

    Noe makes the point that a reward pathway is a necessary but not sufficient condition for addiction. On the other hand, in the worst cases (rat self-stimulation, p-addicts) it pretty much is all that you need.

    So the reduction to a neural mechanism isn't way off here.

    Are you bothered about it being called a disease? Yes, that seems the wrong word if the response of the brain to a drug is not abnormal or atypical.

    Clearly there is individual variety involved. Some people are far more easily hooked for various reasons.

    There is also neural complexity in the fact that the rewarding eventually becomes the habitual. People are hooked as much on the familiar pattern of action as any strong feelings. And reward also moves to the anticipatory set - the preparing of the syringe, the spin of the wheel.

    So reduction to neurology is not in any way a simple explanation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
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