Monday, February 12, 2007

Technocorrections News, Monday, February 12, 2007

Newsweek has a good article up about the reality of rehab treatment, at least that for the rich enough folks who, by going to these places, are basically admitting the same behavior for which thousands are spending time in prison (but not having to spend a dime of their own money for it!!). Snark aside, here are the important technocorrections quotes, naturally almost at the end:

But the real breakthrough, the paradigm shift, will come when safe, reliable drug treatments are available for addiction. Although they are no more likely to end addiction forever than Prozac ended depression, such drugs could make a big difference in the lives of people struggling with addiction. Their eventual likelihood got a big boost when researchers made the astonishing claim last month that people with injuries to a specific region of the brain instantly lost the desire to smoke. "There are probably 10 new drugs in development for alcoholism," says Willenbring, "and some are very exciting." Of course, people were very excited in the 1990s about using antidepressants to treat addiction, but that approach hasn't lived up to its promise. (Another disappointment was Antabuse, which reacts with alcohol to make you throw up; naltrexone, a more sophisticated drug, blocks the brain's opiate receptors—you can still drink, but it won't make you feel good. It can reduce relapse rates in the three months after treatment by 20 to 40 percent.)

But as researchers learn more about how addiction works, even more ingenious and effective drugs are possible. One, Topamax, an existing epilepsy drug (which means it has a leg up on safety testing), affects the balance between two brain chemicals, glutamate and GABA. Addicts have an excess of glutamate, which enhances the desire for drugs or alcohol; GABA inhibits it, so restoring the balance reduces cravings. You could call it willpower in a pill. A second class of drugs, nearing clinical trials, dampens the stress response, which researchers believe is crucial to preventing relapses after treatment. Willenbring cautions, though, that even the most effective drugs will undoubtedly have to be combined with some form of behavioral support.

. . . Want more proof? How about the discovery by Wash U of St. Louis scientists of genetic variations that contribute to your risk for nicotine dependence and other addictions? Here are some good quotes from that piece:

"An imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory activity in the brain may predispose people to addiction, such as alcoholism, drug dependence or nicotine dependence. The Neurexin gene we've identified is really a key factor in the balance between inhibition and excitatory activity in neurons."

Current drug treatments for nicotine dependence continue to be only marginally effective, and . . . using information about genetic traits to tailor medications to individuals could make them significantly more effective.

Not to mention allow manipulation of receptor sites on the person's brain cells. Not that I'd ever know how to do that. . . . And finally, this news that IA State U scientists have studied the effectiveness of current facial composite systems and found them, shall we say, wanting? Does this mean we don't really have to be concerned about them? No. The biggest potential problem with technocorrections has always been that it will be oversold and relied on more than warranted by truthful results. A 30% false positive rate? You mean I'd be right 2 out of 3? Sounds pretty good to me. Where's the first guy we can run this on?

See what I mean? (And if you don't, stop reading here until you do.)

No comments: