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New Prescriptions for Addiction Treatment

New prescriptions are making it easier to kick old drug addiction habits and stay clean.

Surgery for Addiction continued...

In Parkinson's, Kaplitt says deep brain stimulation is being used to help control muscle tremors. In epilepsy, the treatment helps offset the occurrence of seizures. In drug addiction, he theorizes it may be useful in either stimulating the same area of the brain as the addictive substance -- thereby eliminating the need for the drug -- or by simply short-circuiting the cravings when they do occur.

"The anatomic pathways of drug addiction are similar to the Parkinson's pathways. Anatomically the areas affected are extremely close ... and thus far, animal studies suggest if you put electrodes into these same areas you can simulate or block drug addiction depending on how you stimulate," says Kaplitt.

While he stresses there are no human trials using deep brain stimulation under way for drug addiction, there are some in progress for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. As such, Kaplitt believes the potential is also there for electronically wiping away drug addiction, and he hopes to start a clinical trial in the near future.

"Given that we have an even better understanding of the [changes in the brain that occur in] people with drug addictions as compared to depression, it seems perfectly reasonable to consider that we might be able to apply what we have learned from treating other diseases with deep brain stimulation to help people addicted to drugs. We can't predict or promise, but there's a definite possibility," says Kaplitt.

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