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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Early Marijuana Use Linked to Prescription Drug Abuse

For decades, drug authorities have described marijuana as a gateway drug that can lead to abuse of more serious drugs. Although the theory has often been ridiculed, a new study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine is lending credence to marijuana's role in prescription drug abuse. The study, which has been published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teenagers who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana are two to three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs as young adults, with the most-abused drugs being opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. According to Dr. Lynn Fiellin, Yale associate professor and lead author of the study, previous studies have focused on the link between marijuana and illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. This is one of the first studies to examine the connection between marijuana and prescription drugs. Dr. Fiellin and her team of researchers used data collected from young adults for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the years…

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Doctors Call for an End to Long-Term Prescriptions for Opioid Painkillers

In response to the growing problem of prescription painkiller abuse in the U.S., three California doctors are calling on their colleagues to rethink the use of narcotic prescription drugs as medication for patients who experience chronic pain.  In the U.S., opioid painkillers including OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin are now prescribed more than any other drugs.  According to the doctors, up to 20% of patient visits to physicians result in a prescription for one of these opioid drugs. Dr. Deborah Grady, Dr. Seth Berkowitz and Dr. Mitchell Katz have published their plea as an editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  The doctors state that 20-40% of adults report non-cancer chronic pain and that opioids have become the most common form of treatment even though few studies are available that examine the use of these drugs for the long-term treatment of pain.  In fact, a large body of statistical evidence shows the harm these drugs can do.  According to Dr. Katz, the use of prescription opioid painkillers results in more…

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