Chinese Surgeons Treat Opiate Addiction by Removing Brain’s Pleasure Center

Doctors in China are experimenting with an extreme treatment for addiction. The experimental procedure consists of destroying portions of the brain's pleasure center in an attempt to stop cravings for opiate drugs like heroin. Possible side effects including permanently disabling an addict's ability to experience the entire range of human emotions, including the capacity to feel joy. Attempts to Ban Controversial Procedure The controversial procedure was banned by the Chinese Ministry of Health in 2004, due in part to pressure from Western media related to ethical concerns. There are also suspicions that researchers have not been truthful about results of the procedure and have exaggerated the benefits in order to be published in leading medical journals. The Ministry of Health's decision was also reported to be based on the lack of long term data about effects of the procedure. The ban on the procedure was not complete, however. Some physicians have been allowed to continue their research on the use of brain surgery to treat addiction. In 2007, the…

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Ibudilast: New Medication for Prescription Drug Addiction

Addiction to prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin has become a more serious problem in the U.S. than addiction to illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. The CDC reports that the number of prescription drug overdose deaths in 2011 exceeded the number of deaths from illegal drug overdoses. The magnitude of this problem is putting  increasing pressure on drug makers to find a solution for prescription drug abuse. MediciNova, a San Diego drug manufacturer, is banking on a drug called Ibudilast to help ease recovery from prescription drug addiction. The National Institutes for Drug Abuse (NIDA) is funding clinical trials to determine if the drug can safely be used as a treatment for addiction to methamphetamine and opioid prescription drugs. MediciNova reports that Ibudilast reduces the cravings that can cause relapse during drug treatment. The company is recommending that the medication be used to fight drug dependence during withdrawal and for the initial 6 to 18 months of sobriety. Since lifestyle changes are required to successfully overcome drug addiction, it…

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