Addiction, whether to alcohol, or controlled substances, is old news. People have been addicted to one or the other since time immemorial. The problem is science has lagged behind in the treatment of alcoholism when compared to other diseases. It is only very recently that science has earnestly entered the race to cure alcoholism. Traditional programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) cornered the market shortly after establishing in 1935. The AA program relies on abstinence primarily based upon their 12-Step program, including the use of sponsors, regular attendance at meetings and a subscription to the belief that one must admit futility and turn to God or a higher power (spiritual). The success of AA is often cited at about 5 percent (The organization refuses to disclose their “success” numbers). Those critical of AA, point to these low numbers and the cult-like atmosphere at the meetings (Members of AA are very sensitive to such criticism). Others say that alcoholism is closely related to mental health and AA does not address these matters.
Recent studies have shown that neuro science may bring us to the point where alcoholism (modernly referred to as an “alcohol-use disorder”), and drug addiction is an illness that can be defeated. A recent article in “The Atlantic”, mentioned the work of neuroscientist John David Sinclair, an American working in Finland. The article stated:
“Sinclair came to believe that people develop drinking problems through a chemical process: each time they drink, the endorphins released in the brain strengthen individual synapses. The stronger these synapses grow, the more likely the person is to think about, and eventually crave, alcohol—until almost anything can trigger a thirst for booze, and drinking becomes compulsive.
Sinclair theorized that if you could stop the endorphins from reaching their target, the brain’s opiate receptors, you could gradually weaken the synapses, and the cravings would subside. To test this hypothesis, he administered opioid antagonists—drugs that block opiate receptors—to the specially bred alcohol-loving rats. He found that if the rats took the medication each time they were given alcohol, they gradually drank less and less.”
Technology has entered the treatment process with mounting success. Smartphone apps such as “A-Chess”, “Esqyir” and “Square2” are set to provide users with timely and important contacts and information to assist them through post-treatment periods. Many suffering from addiction do fine when in a closed treatment facility but need extra assistance once they re-enter the real world.