Dr. Nora Volkow: What Does It Mean When We Call Addiction a Brain Disorder?

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The following blog is reprinted in part from the National Institute on Drug Abuse Informed Americans no longer view addiction as a moral failing, and more and more policymakers are recognizing that punishment is an ineffective and inappropriate tool for addressing a person’s drug problems. Treatment is what is needed. Fortunately, effective medications are available to help in the treatment of opioid use disorders. Medications cannot take the place of an individual’s willpower, but they aid addicted individuals in resisting the constant challenges to their resolve; they have been shown in study after study to reduce illicit drug use and its consequences. They save lives. Yet the medical model of addiction as a brain disorder or disease has its vocal critics. Some claim that viewing addiction this way minimizes its important social and environmental causes, as though saying addiction is a disorder of brain circuits means that social stresses like...
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Untreated Early-Life Trauma – Missed Opportunities, Lost Lives

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Several years ago, a colleague asked me what I thought about his “four months and done” buprenorphine treatment program. He believed that virtually all people with opioid use disorders could “learn” how to stay drug-free in that time. All his patients were titrated to an effective dose in the first weeks, maintained for the first two months, and tapered off over the next two months. He offered anecdotal evidence of the success of his approach, but it became clear that most of those he tapered simply disappeared. He had no meaningful data, even in the short term. I asked him whether he took a trauma history when his patients initially presented, and he had no idea what I was talking about. I am an individual in recovery as well as a treatment professional, and I have treated tens of thousands of patients with addiction. Most of those patients, when questioned,...
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House Approves Bill Providing $1 Billion in New Funding to Curb Opioid Addiction

House Approves Bill Providing $1 Billion in New Funding to Curb Opioid Addiction
The U.S. House on Wednesday approved the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes $1 billion in new funding for the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass by next week, USA Today reports. The White House, in a statement supporting passage of the measure, said, “The resources included in the bill will allow states to expand access to treatment to help individuals seeking help to find it and to start the road to recovery, with preference given to states with an incidence or prevalence of opioid use disorders that is substantially higher relative to other states.”
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Wider Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment Urged for Teen Opioid Addiction

Wider Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment Urged for Teen Opioid Addiction
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that pediatricians consider offering medication-assisted treatment, such as buprenorphine, for teen and young adult patients with severe opioid use disorders, USA Today reports. Pediatricians who do not prescribe the drugs themselves should refer patients to doctors who do, the group advises. According to the AAP, between 1991 and 2012, the rate of “nonmedical use” (use without a prescription or more than prescribed) of opioid medication by teens and young adults up to age 25 more than doubled. The rate of opioid use disorders, including heroin addiction, also jumped. The rate of fatal opioid overdose more than doubled between 2000 and 2013.
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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