Drug addiction: a chronic disease of the brain
Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, shares insights on drug addiction and future treatments.
Our capacity to exert free will gets compromised by drugs. People that are addicted, and they actually
will tell you very consistently, I want to stop. I don't want to do it anymore. [MUSIC PLAYING]
I just cannot stop. Opioids, they are one of the most potent medications
we have for pain. And according to the Institute of Medicine, there's 100 million people in the United States
that suffer from chronic pain. The main reason of morbidity and mortality from drug use is from legal drugs, not from illegal ones.
The war on drugs represents one of the tendencies that we want, which is to oversimplify things.
What has failed clearly, black and white, is the criminalization of the person that's addicted.
By criminalizing the addicted person, we've stigmatized the condition. So persons-- the patients don't dare to come out.
Why would-- would I there, if I were addicted? I don't think so. If it's something that is criminal, I would be afraid to tell my doctor that I'm sick.
And I think that doctor, and I know that this is a criminal behavior, and I don't want to put my patient behind bars.
Well, guess what? I probably may not ask the question.
So thereupon, the notion of recognizing addiction
as a chronic disease of the brain, that explain why that person cannot exert self control.
It's at the basis of the way that we need to address the problem of addiction. I think that in the future, we will
be able to cure individuals. I think that it will be possible. And I'm not a magical thinker.
An area that has been fascinating is the whole area of brain imaging, which
has enabled us to really start to investigate how the human brain works.
So as we learn more how to repair the brain, we will be able to actually compensate
substance use disorder
Browse videos by topic categories