Are Drugs the Future of Sobriety?

ImageAs their understanding of addiction evolves, the more scientists believe that medicines have a significant role to play in kicking the habit. Addiction changes the brain, literally carving new pathways that determine how addicts perceive pleasure. In this respect, alcoholism becomes a chronic disease like diabetes or high-blood pressure–and nobody tells a diabetic to heal himself with willpower alone. Today, there are a handful of promising, and underused, drugs that tweak the reward systems in the brain and help alcoholics stay sober. Of course, all alcoholics are different. So what many addiction experts now envision is a future in which alcoholism is treated like depression: Find a medicine that works for you and couple it with talk therapy to achieve long-term improvement. The problem is convincing people, even doctors, that drugs have a role to play in sobriety. My New York Times article on the drugs that are changing treatments for alcoholism, Tailoring Treatments for Alcoholics.

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