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August 1, 2010

New studies strengthen evidence that drug addiction is a disease of the brain; substitution therapy necessary"Two scientific lectures presented at the Eighteenth International AIDS Conference in Vienna last week, demonstrated that drug use in and of itself is linked to increased rates of HIV transmission, giving support for evidence that substitution therapy programmes could help to stem the HIV epidemic.

"Currently, ten million injecting drug users (IDUs) are living with the virus worldwide."


Mark Kuebel, L.Ac. said...

The headline is completely misleading. The text does not say anything that supports the headline. Why was this headline chosen? My first suspicion is that someone wants to repeat the untrue mantram that addiction is some kind of biomechanical disease. Addiction is driven by the emotions, by desperation and inability to handle one's emotions and circumstances.

The text is logical; addiction often comes from despair over one's self and status, and encourages sloppy behavior leading to HIV infection and all the other consequences of lax behaviors based on despair. The headline implies a biochemical/genetic differentiation that somehow could mechanically be inhibited by a biomechanical/pharmaceutical process.

What is going on here? This is bad information.

John S. James said...

Click the headline to check the (free) full text of the article -- not just the snippet of it that I quoted. The article text contains the following:

"Addiction is a 'chronic disease', said Volkow. People take the drug 'not because the individual [wants to], but because they have lost their ability to control'.

"According to O’Brien, the notion that drug addiction is a disease of the brain is not a novel concept. 'We have very good evidence [that addiction] is governed in large measure by our genes. A lot of people who are addicts are not guilty of anything that the rest of us don’t do, like experimenting with drugs,' he said.

"While 'it should not be any surprise that sexual behaviours increase when intoxicated', the pinpointing of changing brain behaviour and chemistry is a relatively new phenomenon, according to Volkow. Such data demonstrate 'that you actually can very specifically identify the biochemical changes in the brain that lead us to understand the disruptive behaviour', she explained."

One can disagree with this of course. I'm no expert, but suspect that both sides are right. As you say, "Addiction is driven by the emotions, by desperation and inability to handle one's emotions and circumstances."

I would go further, and suggest that having a society that does not keep millions of people in chronic desperation (by deliberate design) might be a good idea.