- To find a non-narcotic therapy that stops or lessens the intense cravings for drugs by targeting the brain mechanisms usurped by repeated drug use. As the addict gets sober and is doing well in their sobriety, there is always a cloud looming. It is so easy to have a bad day, a reminder of past use that triggers relapse. It is relatively unique to addicts to be unable to learn from or recall the terrible consequences they lived through while addicted and how hard they fought to be sober. There needs to be a therapy that can be taken regularly like insulin, or a statin, that could work on lessening this craving by getting the brain to turnoff that constant reminder of using.
- To find a new therapy to help the extreme pain and sickness of detoxing, encouraging every addict to want to get sober quicker without the fear of becoming so gut wrenchingly ill. With buprenorphine, you have to wait almost 24 hours after taking your last dose of drug, during which time withdrawal symptoms are growing in intensity, to be able to receive buprenorphine and get some relief. So many addicts are extremely fearful of how sick they will get with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, muscle aches, chills and shakes that they just won’t take the plunge and even try to get sober. In the case of alcohol, detoxification can be life-threatening if not done carefully under the appropriate oversight and assistance. If there were something to take immediately after stopping drugs, many lives would be saved, and people could do this on their own having the independence of deciding when they want to become sober.
- Study the brain activity of people before and after they start using drugs to understand the brain better in addiction and how to truly see what has changed, how it could be changed back and how to prevent drug addiction. It is important to identify the genetic factors that predispose some to becoming an addict. It is likewise important to understand how environmental vulnerabilities interact with those genes to precipitate an addiction. We can find a cure for addiction if we can understand exactly what is neurobiologically changing in the brain and how it can be fixed. When one becomes an addict, there is a complete change in the way the brain functions. There is the most intense craving to do anything to get drugs. It becomes your full-time occupation. A logical person becomes completely illogical and will lie and will do absolutely anything to obtain the drugs. There must be a better understanding of this to be able to find a permanent and enduring cure. Might medications for other brain diseases be re-purposed for addiction?
- Remove the negative stigma of being an addict. There is so much societal and personal shame and embarrassment and feelings of failure for the addict and/or the addict’s family. Often people hide away and do not seek help for fear of embarrassment or losing their friends or employment. It is a disease, and like other diseases, those suffering from it need to be treated as patients not criminals–just as cancer was once a disease people whispered about, we need to change the public perception of drug addiction.
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